Fatty liver is associated with impaired activity of PPARγ-coactivator 1α (PGC1α) and mitochondrial biogenesis in mice

Michal Aharoni-Simon, Michal Hann-Obercyger, Svetlana Pen, Zecharia Madar, Oren Tirosh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations


Accumulating evidence indicates that mitochondria have a key role in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). C57BL/6J mice were fed a choline-deficient, ethionine-supplemented (CDE) diet. Histological studies demonstrated accumulation of fat vacuoles in up to 90% of hepatocytes in mice fed the CDE diet for 14 days. In addition, a decrease in mitochondrial levels, together with an increase in superoxide radicals levels were observed, indicating elevation of oxidative stress in hepatocytes. ATP levels were decreased in livers from CDE-fed mice after overnight fasting. This was accompanied by a compensative and significant increase in peroxisome- proliferator-activated receptor-γ coactivator 1α (PGC1α) mRNA levels in comparison to control livers. However, there was a reduction in PGC1α protein levels in CDE-treated mice. Moreover, the expression of mitochondrial biogenesis genes nuclear respiratory factor 1 (NRF-1), mitochondrial transcription factor A (TFAM), mitochondrial transcription factor B1 (TFB1M) and mitochondrial transcription factor B2 (TFB2M), which are all regulated by PGC1α activity, remained unchanged in fasted CDE-treated mice. These results indicate impaired activity of PGC1α. The impaired activity was further confirmed by chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis, which demonstrated decreased interaction of PGC1α with promoters containing NRF-1 and NRF-2 response elements in mice fed the CDE diet. A decrease in PGC1α ability to activate the expression of the gluconeogenic gene phosphoenol-pyruvate carboxykinase was also observed. This study demonstrates, for the first time, that attenuated mitochondrial biogenesis in steatotic livers is associated with impaired biological activity of PGC1α.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1018-1028
Number of pages11
JournalLaboratory Investigation
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by a grant no. 377/06 from the Israel Science Foundation to OT and ZM.


  • ROS
  • liver damage
  • mitochondrial biogenesis
  • steatosis


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