Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a progressive form of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease that can develop into cirrhosis, hepatic failure, and hepatocellular carcinoma. Although several metabolic pathways are disrupted and endogenous metabolites may change in NASH, the alterations in serum metabolites during NASH development remain unclear. To gain insight into the disease mechanism, serum metabolite changes were assessed using metabolomics with ultraperformance liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization-quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry and a conventional mouse NASH model induced by a methionine- and choline-deficient (MCD) diet. Significant decreases in serum palmitoyl-, stearoyl-, and oleoyl-lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC) and marked increases in tauro-β-muricholate, taurocholate and 12-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid (12-HETE) were detected in mice with NASH. In agreement with these metabolite changes, hepatic mRNAs encoding enzymes and proteins involved in LPC degradation (lysophosphatidylcholine acyltransferase [Lpcat] 1-4), basolateral bile acid excretion (ATP-binding cassette subfamily C member [Abcc] 1/4/5 and organic solute transporter β), and 12-HETE synthesis (arachidonate 12-lipoxygenase) were significantly up-regulated. In contrast, the expression of solute carrier family 10 member 1 (Slc10a1) and solute carrier organic anion transporter family member (Slco) 1a1 and 1b2, responsible for transporting bile acids into hepatocytes, were markedly suppressed. Supplementation of the MCD diet with methionine revealed that the changes in serum metabolites and the related gene expression were derived from steatohepatitis, but not dietary choline deficiency or steatosis. Furthermore, tumor necrosis factor-α and transforming growth factor-β1 induced the expression of Lpcat2/4 and Abcc1/4 and down-regulated Slc10a1 and Slco1a1 in primary hepatocytes, suggesting an association between the changes in serum LPC and bile acids and proinflammatory cytokines. Finally, induction of hepatitis in ob/ob mice by D-galactosamine injection led to similar changes in serum metabolites and related gene expression. Conclusion: Phospholipid and bile acid metabolism is disrupted in NASH, likely due to enhanced hepatic inflammatory signaling.
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