Liver Structural Injury in Leptin-Deficient (ob/ob) Mice: Lipogenesis, Fibrogenesis, Inflammation, and Apoptosis

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Fabiane Ferreira Martins; Vanessa Souza-Mello; Jorge Jose de Carvalho; Mariano del Sol; Marcia Barbosa Aguila & Carlos Alberto Mandarim-de-Lacerda


Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) might progress the steatosis to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), reaching a cirrhosis state and possibly hepatocellular carcinoma. The liver of three-month-old C57BL/6J mice (wild-type, WT group, n=10) and leptin- deficient obese mice (ob/ob group, n=10) were studied, focusing on the mechanisms associated with the activation of the hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) and pro-fibrogenesis. The obese ob/ob animals' liver showed steatosis, increased lipogenesis gene expressions, inflammation, increased pro-inflammatory gene expressions, inflammatory infiltrate, and potential apoptosis linked to a high Caspase 3 expression. In ob/ob mice, liver sections were labeled in the fibrotic zones by anti-alpha-smooth muscle actin (alpha-SMA) and anti-Reelin, but not in the WT mice. Moreover, the alpha-SMA gene expression was higher in the ob/ob group's liver than the WT group. The pro-fibrogenic gene expressions were parallel to anti- alpha-SMA and anti-Reelin immunofluorescence, suggesting HSCs activation. In the ob/ob animals, there were increased gene expressions involved with lipogenesis (Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma, Cell death-inducing DFFA-like effector-c, Sterol regulatory element-binding protein-1c, and Fatty acid synthase), pro-fibrogenesis (Transforming growth factor beta1, Smad proteins- 3, Yes-associated protein-1, Protein platelet-derived growth factor receptor beta), pro-inflammation (Tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and Interleukin-6), and apoptosis (Caspase 3). In conclusion, the results in obese ob/ob animals provide a clue to the events in humans. In a translational view, controlling these targets can help mitigate the hepatic effects of human obesity and NAFLD progression to NASH.

KEY WORDS: Steatosis; Stellate cell; Fibrosis; Confocal microscopy; Stereology.

How to cite this article

MARTINS, F. F.; SOUZA-MELLO, V.; CARVALHO, J. J.; DEL SOL, M.; AGUILA, B. M. & MANDARIM-DE-LACERDA, C. A. Liver structural injury in leptin-deficient (ob/ob) mice: Lipogenesis, fibrogenesis, inflammation and apoptosis. Int. J. Morphol., 39(3):732- 738, 2021.