Hepatic Mitochondria in Diet-induced Obese Mice (Stereology and Molecular Analysis)

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Pedro Henrique Reis-Barbosa; Jorge Jose de Carvalho; Mariano del Sol & Carlos Alberto Mandarim-de-Lacerda


The world population is going through an obesity epidemic that has severe consequences for the health system. This study focused on studying hepatic mitochondria in obese animals induced by a high-fat (HF) diet and used the model-based stereology in electron micrographs for the quantitative study. Besides, the gene expressions of molecular markers of mitochondrial biogenesis carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1a (Cpt 1α), mitochondrial transcription factor a (Tfam), uncoupling protein 3 (Ucp 3), and nuclear respiratory factor 1 (Nrf 1) were analyzed. The HF diet caused a weight gain of +1820 % comparing the control group (C) with the HF group (from 0.32±0.31 g to 5.5±0.39 g, P<0.001). The HF group showed fat droplets in the hepatocyte cytoplasm (steatosis) and less dense and large mitochondria in transmission electron microscopy. The mitochondria size (cross-section) did not show a significant difference between the groups C and HF. However, the mitochondria numerical density per area was 30 % less, the mitochondrial surface density (outer membrane) was 20 % less, and the mitochondrial volume density was 22 % less in the HF group than the C group. The gene expressions of molecular markers of mitochondrial biogenesis Cpt 1α, Tfam, Ucp 3, and Nrf 1 decreased in the HF group compared to the C group. The quantitative results match perfectly with the molecular ones of mitochondrial biogenesis markers. In the future, it will be crucial to verify if and how these data recover with the reduction of obesity, which would be of significant interest given the current obesity epidemic that affects the world population.

KEY WORDS: Mitochondria; Mitochondrial biogenesis; Diet-induced obesity; Cell biology; Molecular biology.

How to cite this article

REIS-BARBOSA, P. H.; CARVALHO, J. J.; DEL SOL, M. & MANDARIM-DE-LACERDA, C. A. Hepatic mitochondria in diet- induced obese mice (stereology and molecular analysis). Int. J. Morphol., 39(2):571-576, 2021.