Background: Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a common disease and feeding mice a methionine-choline-deficient (MCD) diet is a frequently used model to study its pathophysiology. Genetic and environmental factors influence NASH development and liver lipid content, which was studied herein using C57BL/6 J mice bred in two different animal facilities.
Methods: Age-matched male C57BL/6 J mice bred in two different animal facilities (later on referred to as WT1 and WT2) at the University Hospital of Regensburg were fed identical MCD or control chows for 2 weeks. Hepatic gene and protein expression and lipid composition were determined.
Results: NASH was associated with increased hepatic triglycerides, which were actually higher in WT1 than WT2 liver in both dietary groups. Cholesterol contributes to hepatic injury but was only elevated in WT2 NASH liver. Ceramides account for insulin resistance and cell death, and ceramide species d18:1/16:0 and d18:1/18:0 were higher in the NASH liver of both groups. Saturated sphingomyelins only declined in WT1 NASH liver. Lysophosphatidylcholine concentrations were quite normal in NASH and only one of the 12 altered phosphatidylcholine species declined in NASH liver of both groups. Very few phosphatidylethanolamine, phosphatidylserine, and phosphatidylinositol species were comparably regulated in NASH liver of both animal groups. Seven of these lipid species declined and two increased in NASH. Notably, hepatic mRNA expression of proinflammatory (F4/80, CD68, IL-6, TNF and chemerin) and profibrotic genes (TGF beta and alpha SMA) was comparable in WT1 and WT2 mice.
Conclusions: Mice housed and bred in different animal facilities had comparable disease severity of NASH whereas liver lipids varied among the groups. Thus, there was no specific lipid signature for NASH in the MCD model.
Keywords: Ceramide; Chemerin, Phosphatidylcholine; Cholesterol.