Objective: Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is becoming a leading cause of advanced chronic liver disease. The progression of NAFLD, including nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), has a strong genetic component, and the most robust contributor is the patatin-like phospholipase domain-containing 3 (PNPLA3) rs738409 encoding the 148M protein sequence variant. We hypothesized that suppressing the expression of the PNPLA3 148M mutant protein would exert a beneficial effect on the entire spectrum of NAFLD.
Methods: We examined the effects of liver-targeted GalNAc3-conjugated antisense oligonucleotide (ASO)-mediated silencing of Pnpla3 in a knock-in mouse model in which we introduced the human PNPLA3 I148M mutation.
Results: ASO-mediated silencing of Pnpla3 reduced liver steatosis (p = 0.038) in homozygous Pnpla3 148M/M knock-in mutant mice but not in wild-type littermates fed a steatogenic high-sucrose diet. In mice fed a NASH-inducing diet, ASO-mediated silencing of Pnpla3 reduced liver steatosis score and NAFLD activity score independent of the Pnpla3 genotype, while reductions in liver inflammation score (p = 0.018) and fibrosis stage (p = 0.031) were observed only in the Pnpla3 knock-in 148M/M mutant mice. These responses were accompanied by reduced liver levels of Mcp1 (p = 0.026) and Timp2 (p = 0.007) specifically in the mutant knock-in mice. This may reduce levels of chemokine attracting inflammatory cells and increase the collagenolytic activity during tissue regeneration.
Conclusion: This study provides the first evidence that a Pnpla3 ASO therapy can improve all features of NAFLD, including liver fibrosis, and suppress the expression of a strong innate genetic risk factor, Pnpla3 148M, which may open up a precision medicine approach in NASH.
Keywords: Fibrosis; Liver; NAFLD; NASH; PNPLA3.
Copyright © 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier GmbH.. All rights reserved.