Nutritional lipid-induced oxidative stress leads to mitochondrial dysfunction followed by necrotic death in FaO hepatocytes

Oren Tirosh, Erez Ilan, Sarit Anavi, Giuliano Ramadori, Zecharia Madar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Objective: Mitochondrial dysfunction and hepatocyte cell death have been reported in fatty liver and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. Our aim in this study was to evaluate whether direct exposure of hepatocytes to extracellular fat could facilitate such deleterious effects. Methods: FaO hepatic cells treated with fat was used as an in vitro model for steatosis. FaO hepatocytes were exposed to 0.1% triacylglycerols using commercially available lipid emulsion (LE) for various periods and studied for production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), mitochondrial function, and cell death parameters. To study the type of cell death, high-mobility group box chromosomal protein 1cellular levels, DNA fragmentation, and caspase activity were evaluated. Results: Cells incubated with LE for 6 h exhibited a marked increase in the production of intracellular ROS. Using treatments with peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor activators, mitochondrial electron-transfer chain inhibitor, and different sources of LE that did or did not contain medium-chain triacylglycerols, the mitochondria were found to be the source of ROS. LE treatment resulted in phosphorylation of adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase, accompanied by a decrease in adenosine triphosphate levels. Changes in intracellular ROS and energy levels were followed by cell death. FaO hepatocytes showed a significant reduction in high-mobility group box chromosomal protein-1 and little DNA fragmentation. Incubation with LE for 24 h did not change caspase-3 activity, indicating that hepatocyte death was necrotic. The antioxidant N-acetylcysteine was able to attenuate the changes in intracellular energy levels and ROS levels and to prevent cell death after exposure to LE. Conclusion: These results suggest that exposure of FaO cells to LE leads to an increase in mitochondrial ROS production and a decrease in cellular energy levels followed by necrotic cell death.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)200-208
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors acknowledge the Center of Diabetes Research of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for their support with a scholarship to E.I.


  • Antioxidants
  • Fatty liver
  • Mitochondria
  • Oxidative stress
  • Triacylglycerol


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