Hepatic injury in metabolic syndrome: the role of selenium in models of hepatic injury and healing
Baghdadi, Hussam Hussein
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Oxidative stress, lipid peroxidation, and endotoxaemia with cytokine-mediated injury have been implicated as factors in the pathogenesis of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The degree of insulin resistance together with co-existing inadequacies of vital antioxidant defence mechanisms may be important determinants of progression to fibrosis in patients with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Current therapies are targeted at improving insulin sensitivity as well as addressing hepatic repair including anti-inflammatory strategies. Anti-oxidants remedies have also been tested but the role of selenoenzymes with antioxidant action, namely thioredoxin reductase 1 (TR1) and glutathione peroxidase 1 (GPX1) have been ignored. The aim of this thesis is to investigate the role of selenium in the pathophysiology of NAFLD both in vitro and in vivo. The in vitro studies used cell lines representing the cell types involved in the disorder; hepatocytes (C3A line) and hepatic stellate cells (LX-2 line). In order to assess the influence of selenium status and selenoenzymes expression on the pathogenesis of NAFLD it was necessary to develop a culture system which allowed good cell viability in selenium free culture medium. This was achieved by the use of an insulin and transferrin (IT)-supplemented medium which importantly was free of any animal serum additions. Using this IT culture medium, selenium addition (as selenite) produced a significant increase in the expression of GPX1 and TR1 in both C3A and LX2 cells. TR1 and GPX1 were expressed at similar levels in both C3A and LX-2 cells. It was also necessary to develop an in-vitro model for fat loading C3A cells to mimic fatty liver pathophysiology. Two models of fat loading were investigated. One model used lactate, pyruvate, octanoate and ammonium (LPON). LPON has been previously used to increase the functionality of C3A cells but it was observed that fat droplets accumulated in these LPON treated cells. Dissection of the agents in the LPON revealed that octanoate was the factor that increased the triglyceride accumulation. Interestingly, octanoate also increased the expression of TR1 and GPX1, suggesting that it could induce oxidative stress leading to the induction of selenoenzymes to afford a protective defence mechanism. In the second model, oleate and/or palmitate were used to fat-load C3A cells. These cells had significantly higher triglyceride content than the LPON-fat-loaded cells. However, oleate and/or palmitate treatments did not increase the expression of either TR1 or GPX1 in C3A cells suggesting perhaps these cells were not under oxidative stress. LPON and oleate/palmitate were also capable of fat loading LX2 cells. Selenium-supplementation of C3A and LX-2 cells efficiently protected (measured by their lactate dehydrogenase retention) them from oxidative damage induced by t-butylhydroperoxide. This suggests that selenium supplementation through its incorporation into selenoenzymes could protect the cells from the oxidative damage. The role of selenium was also investigated in the regulation of α-1 pro-collagen mRNA expression. In LX-2 cells, the expression of α-1 pro-collagen mRNA was unaffected by the selenium status of the cell. Similarly the selenium status of C3A cells had no effect on modifying α-1 pro-collagen mRNA of LX2 cells when co-culture or conditioned medium experiments were performed. These results suggest that LX-2 cells were already largely activated and at a stage unable to be ameliorated by selenium treatment. In contrast, studies on C3A cells revealed that TGF-β1 (common inducer of α-1 pro-collagen mRNA in hepatic stellate cells) dramatically increased the expression of α-1 pro-collagen mRNA in C3A cells to the levels observed in LX-2 cells. More interestingly, selenium supplementation of C3A cells notably decreased α-1 pro-collagen mRNA expression in response to TGF-1. In the in vivo study, plasma selenium in type 2 diabetics (high risk of developing NAFLD) were inversely related to the body mass index and in most patients selenium levels were below that required to maximally express GPX1 in red cells. Furthermore, type 2 diabetics had lower plasma selenium levels compared to the healthy control group. Collectively, this suggests that in the UK population, obesity is a risk factor for both insulin resistance and decreased selenium status leading to sub-optimal antioxidant protection. In conclusion, this study provides evidence that selenium through increasing the expression of selenoenzymes is beneficial in protecting liver cells from oxidative stress. Furthermore, selenium is capable of suppressing α-1 pro-collagen mRNA expression in hepatocytes although not in activated hepatic stellate cells. Taken together these data support the view that suboptimal selenium intake in the UK may be a risk factor in the pathogenesis of NAFLD.