Kupffer cells are protective in alcoholic steatosis

Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Basis Dis. 2022 Jun 1;1868(6):166398. doi: 10.1016/j.bbadis.2022.166398. Epub 2022 Mar 19.


Massive accumulation of lipids is a characteristic of alcoholic liver disease. Excess of hepatic fat activates Kupffer cells (KCs), which affect disease progression. Yet, KCs contribute to the resolution and advancement of liver injury. Aim of the present study was to evaluate the effect of KC depletion on markers of liver injury and the hepatic lipidome in liver steatosis (Lieber-DeCarli diet, LDC, female mice, mixed C57BL/6J and DBA/2J background). LDC increased the number of dead hepatocytes without changing the mRNA levels of inflammatory cytokines in the liver. Animals fed LDC accumulated elevated levels of almost all lipid classes. KC ablation normalized phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylinositol levels in LDC livers, but had no effect in the controls. A modest decline of trigylceride and diglyceride levels upon KC loss was observed in both groups. Serum aminotransferases and hepatic ceramide were elevated in all animals upon KC depletion, and in particular, cytotoxic very long-chain ceramides increased in the LDC livers. Meta-biclustering revealed that eight lipid species occurred in more than 40% of the biclusters, and four of them were very long-chain ceramides. KC loss was further associated with excess free cholesterol levels in LDC livers. Expression of inflammatory cytokines did, however, not increase in parallel. In summary, the current study described a function of KCs in hepatic ceramide and cholesterol metabolism in an animal model of LDC liver steatosis. High abundance of cytotoxic ceramides and free cholesterol predispose the liver to disease progression suggesting a protective role of KCs in alcoholic liver diseases.

Keywords: Bi-clustering; Lieber-DeCarli diet; Lipidomics; Louvain communities; Macrophages; Phospholipids; Sphingolipids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Fatty Liver* / metabolism
  • Female
  • Kupffer Cells* / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred DBA

Associated data

  • figshare/10.6084/m9.figshare.14247971