Early microcystin-LR exposure-linked inflammasome activation in mice causes development of fatty liver disease and insulin resistance

Environ Toxicol Pharmacol. 2020 Nov:80:103457. doi: 10.1016/j.etap.2020.103457. Epub 2020 Jul 17.


Evidence from pediatric studies show that infants and children are at risk for early exposure to microcystin. The present report tests the hypothesis that early life exposure to microcystin (MC), a principal component of harmful algal blooms followed by a juvenile exposure to high-fat diet feeding potentiate the development of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease phenotype in adulthood. Results showed classical symptoms of early NAFLD linked inflammation. Cytokines and chemokines such as CD68, IL-1β, MCP-1, and TNF-α, as well as α-SMA were increased in the groups that were exposed to MC-LR with the high-fat diet compared to the vehicle group. Also, mechanistically, NLRP3 KO mice showed a significant decrease in the inflammation and NAFLD phenotype and resisted the metabolic changes such as insulin resistance and glucose metabolism in the liver. The data suggested that MC-LR exposure and subsequent NLRP3 inflammasome activation in childhood could impact liver health in juveniles.

Keywords: GLUT4; Hexokinase; IRS; Inflammasome; MC-LR; Microcystin; NLRP3; PEPCK.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diet, High-Fat / adverse effects
  • Inflammasomes / metabolism*
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / immunology
  • Male
  • Marine Toxins / toxicity*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microcystins / toxicity*
  • NLR Family, Pyrin Domain-Containing 3 Protein / metabolism
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / chemically induced*
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / immunology
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / metabolism
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / toxicity*


  • Inflammasomes
  • Marine Toxins
  • Microcystins
  • NLR Family, Pyrin Domain-Containing 3 Protein
  • Nlrp3 protein, mouse
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • cyanoginosin LR