In most vertebrates, the liver produces bile that is necessary to emulsify absorbed fats and enable the digestion of lipids in the small intestine as well as to excrete bilirubin and other metabolic products. In the liver, the experimental obstruction of the extrahepatic biliary system initiates a complex cascade of pathological events that leads to cholestasis and inflammation resulting in a strong fibrotic reaction originating from the periportal fields. Therefore, surgical ligation of the common bile duct has become the most commonly used model to induce obstructive cholestatic injury in rodents and to study the molecular and cellular events that underlie these pathophysiological mechanisms induced by inappropriate bile flow. In recent years, different surgical techniques have been described that either allow reconnection or reanastomosis after bile duct ligation (BDL), e.g., partial BDL, or other microsurgical methods for specific research questions. However, the most frequently used model is the complete obstruction of the common bile duct that induces a strong fibrotic response after 21 to 28 days. The mortality rate can be high due to infectious complications or technical inaccuracies. Here we provide a detailed surgical procedure for the BDL model in mice that induce a highly reproducible fibrotic response in accordance to the 3R rule for animal welfare postulated by Russel and Burch in 1959.
Resveratrol is a naturally occurring stilbene endowed with multiple health-promoting effects. It is produced by certain plants including several dietary sources such as grapes, apples, raspberries, blueberries, plums, peanuts, and products derived therefrom (e.g., wine). Resveratrol can be isolated and purified from these biological sources or synthesized in a few steps with an overall high yield. This compound and its glucoside, the trans-polydatin piceid, have received worldwide attention for their beneficial effects on cardiovascular, inflammatory, neurodegenerative, metabolic, and age-related diseases. These health-promoting effects are particularly attractive given the prevalence of resveratrol-based nutraceuticals and the paradoxical epidemiologic observation that wine consumption is inversely correlated to the incidence of coronary heart disease. However, the notion of resveratrol as a "magic bullet" was recently challenged by clinical trials showing that this polyphenol does not have a substantial influence on health status and mortality risk. In the present review, we discuss the proposed therapeutic attributes and the mode of molecular actions of resveratrol. We also cover recent pharmacologic efforts to improve the poor bioavailability of resveratrol and influence the transition between body systems in humans. We conclude with some thoughts about future research directions that might be meaningful for resolving controversies surrounding resveratrol.
Fructose is one of the key dietary catalysts in the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). NAFLD comprises a complex disease spectrum, including steatosis (fatty liver), non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, hepatocyte injury, inflammation, and fibrosis. It is also the hepatic manifestation of the metabolic syndrome, which covers abdominal obesity, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, glucose intolerance, or type 2 diabetes mellitus. Commensal bacteria modulate the host immune system, protect against exogenous pathogens, and are gatekeepers in intestinal barrier function and maturation. Dysbalanced intestinal microbiota composition influences a variety of NAFLD-associated clinical conditions. Conversely, nutritional supplementation with probiotics and preobiotics impacting composition of gut microbiota can improve the outcome of NAFLD. In crosstalk with the host immune system, the gut microbiota is able to modulate inflammation, insulin resistance, and intestinal permeability. Moreover, the composition of microbiota of an individual is a kind of fingerprint highly influenced by diet. In addition, not only the microbiota itself but also its metabolites influence the metabolism and host immune system. The gut microbiota can produce vitamins and a variety of nutrients including short-chain fatty acids. Holding a healthy balance of the microbiota is therefore highly important. In the present review, we discuss the impact of long-term intake of fructose on the composition of the intestinal microbiota and its biological consequences in regard to liver homeostasis and disease. In particular, we will refer about fructose-induced alterations of the tight junction proteins affecting the gut permeability, leading to the translocation of bacteria and bacterial endotoxins into the blood circulation.
Lipocalin 2 (LCN2) is a secreted protein that belongs to the Lipocalins, a group of transporters of small lipophilic molecules such as steroids, lipopolysaccharides, iron, and fatty acids in circulation. Two decades after its discovery and after a high variety of published findings, LCN2's altered expression has been assigned to critical roles in several pathological organ conditions, including liver injury and steatosis, renal damage, brain injury, cardiomyopathies, muscle-skeletal disorders, lung infection, and cancer in several organs. The significance of this 25-kDa lipocalin molecule has been impressively increased during the last years. Data from several studies indicate the role of LCN2 in physiological conditions as well as in response to cellular stress and injury. LCN2 in the liver shows a protective role in acute and chronic injury models where its expression is highly elevated. Moreover, LCN2 expression is being considered as a potential strong biomarker for pathological conditions, including rheumatic diseases, cancer in human organs, hepatic steatosis, hepatic damage, and inflammation. In this review, we summarize experimental and clinical findings linking LCN2 to the pathogenesis of liver disease.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common chronic liver disease in Western countries with almost 25% affected adults worldwide. The growing public health burden is getting evident when considering that NAFLD-related liver transplantations are predicted to almost double within the next 20 years. Typically, hepatic alterations start with simple steatosis, which easily progresses to more advanced stages such as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), fibrosis and cirrhosis. This course of disease finally leads to end-stage liver disease such as hepatocellular carcinoma, which is associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Although clinical trials show promising results, there is actually no pharmacological agent approved to treat NASH. Another important problem associated with NASH is that presently the liver biopsy is still the gold standard in diagnosis and for disease staging and grading. Because of its invasiveness, this technique is not well accepted by patients and the method is prone to sampling error. Therefore, an urgent need exists to find reliable, accurate and noninvasive biomarkers discriminating between different disease stages or to develop innovative imaging techniques to quantify steatosis.
Hepatic fibrosis is characterized by the formation and deposition of excess fibrous connective tissue, leading to progressive architectural tissue remodeling. Irrespective of the underlying noxious trigger, tissue damage induces an inflammatory response involving the local vascular system and the immune system and a systemic mobilization of endocrine and neurological mediators, ultimately leading to the activation of matrix-producing cell populations. Genetic disorders, chronic viral infection, alcohol abuse, autoimmune attacks, metabolic disorders, cholestasis, alterations in bile acid composition or concentration, venous obstruction, and parasite infections are well-established factors that predispose one to hepatic fibrosis. In addition, excess fat and other lipotoxic mediators provoking endoplasmic reticulum stress, alteration of mitochondrial function, oxidative stress, and modifications in the microbiota are associated with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and, subsequently, the initiation and progression of hepatic fibrosis. Multidisciplinary panels of experts have developed practice guidelines, including recommendations of preferred therapeutic approaches to a specific cause of hepatic disease, stage of fibrosis, or occurring co-morbidities associated with ongoing loss of hepatic function. Here, we summarize the factors leading to liver fibrosis and the current concepts in anti-fibrotic therapies.
The liver is a central organ in the human body, coordinating several key metabolic roles. The structure of the liver which consists of the distinctive arrangement of hepatocytes, hepatic sinusoids, the hepatic artery, portal vein and the central vein, is critical for its function. Due to its unique position in the human body, the liver interacts with components of circulation targeted for the rest of the body and in the process, it is exposed to a vast array of external agents such as dietary metabolites and compounds absorbed through the intestine, including alcohol and drugs, as well as pathogens. Some of these agents may result in injury to the cellular components of liver leading to the activation of the natural wound healing response of the body or fibrogenesis. Long-term injury to liver cells and consistent activation of the fibrogenic response can lead to liver fibrosis such as that seen in chronic alcoholics or clinically obese individuals. Unidentified fibrosis can evolve into more severe consequences over a period of time such as cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. It is well recognized now that in addition to external agents, genetic predisposition also plays a role in the development of liver fibrosis. An improved understanding of the cellular pathways of fibrosis can illuminate our understanding of this process, and uncover potential therapeutic targets. Here we summarized recent aspects in the understanding of relevant pathways, cellular and molecular drivers of hepatic fibrosis and discuss how this knowledge impact the therapy of respective disease.
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