Lower adiposity does not protect beta-2 syntrophin null mice from hepatic steatosis and inflammation in experimental non-alcoholic steatohepatitis

Gene. 2023 Apr 5:859:147209. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2023.147209. Epub 2023 Jan 18.


Visceral adiposity is strongly associated with liver steatosis, which predisposes to the development of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Mice with loss of the molecular adapter protein beta-2 syntrophin (SNTB2) have greatly reduced intra-abdominal fat mass. Hepatic expression of proteins with a role in fatty acid metabolism such as fatty acid synthase was nevertheless normal. This was also the case for proteins regulating cholesterol synthesis and uptake. Yet, a slight induction of hepatic cholesterol was noticed in the mutant mice. When mice were fed a methionine choline deficient (MCD) diet to induce NASH, liver cholesteryl ester content was induced in the wild type but not the mutant mice. Serum cholesterol of the mice fed a MCD diet declined and this was significant for the SNTB2 null mice. Though the mutant mice lost less fat mass than the wild type animals, hepatic triglyceride levels were similar between the groups. Proteins involved in fatty acid or cholesterol metabolism such as fatty acid synthase, apolipoprotein E and low-density lipoprotein receptor did not differ between the genotypes. Hepatic oxidative stress and liver inflammation of mutant and wild type mice were comparable. Mutant mice had lower hepatic levels of secondary bile acids and higher cholesterol storage in epididymal fat, and this may partly prevent hepatic cholesterol deposition. In summary, the current study shows that SNTB2 null mice have low intra-abdominal fat mass and do not accumulate hepatic cholesteryl esters when fed a MCD diet. Nevertheless, the SNTB2 null mice develop a similar NASH pathology as wild type mice suggesting a minor role of intra-abdominal fat and liver cholesteryl esters in this model.

Keywords: Bile acids; Cholesterol; Fat mass; Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis; Phospholipids.

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity
  • Animals
  • Cholesterol Esters / metabolism
  • Choline / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Fatty Acid Synthases
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Methionine
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease* / genetics
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease* / pathology
  • Obesity / metabolism


  • Cholesterol Esters
  • syntrophin
  • Fatty Acids
  • Choline
  • Methionine
  • Fatty Acid Synthases