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Pharmacological Activation of AMPK Prevents Drp1-mediated Mitochondrial Fission and Alleviates Hepatic Steatosis In vitro


Jingxia Du*, Tingting Wang, Chengyao Xiao, Yibo Dong, Shiyao Zhou and Yujiao Zhu   Pages 1 - 12 ( 12 )


Background: The incidence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is increasing worldwide. Adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) activation is beneficial for NAFLD treatment. Recent studies show the excessive fission of mitochondria during NAFLD progression, so targeting mitochondria dynamics may be a possible target for NAFLD. Still, little is known about whether AMPK regulates mitochondrial dynamics in hepar. <p> Objective: This study investigated whether AMPK activation alleviates hepatic steatosis by regulating mitochondrial dynamics mediated by GTPase dynamin-related protein 1 (Drp1). <p> Methods: Human hepatocyte line L-02 cells were cultured and subjected to palmitic acid (PA) treatment for 24 h to establish a hepatic steatosis model in vitro, which was pre-treated with different tool drugs. Hepatocyte function, hepatocyte lipid content, mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, and mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) were examined. The expression levels of genes and proteins associated with mitochondrial dynamics were assessed using reverse transcription-quantitative PCR and western blotting. <p> Results: The results indicated that 5-Aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide 1-β-D-ribofuranoside (AICAR), an AMPK activator, improved hepatocyte function, as demonstrated by decreased alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) activity (P<0.05 or P<0.01). In addition, AICAR decreased total cholesterol (TC) and triglyceride (TG) content and lipid deposition in hepatocytes (P<0.01); decreased ROS production; improved MMP (P<0.01); reduced fission-1 (Fis1) and mitochondrial fission factor (Mff) mRNA expression; and downregulated p-Drp1 (Ser 616) protein expression. In contrast, AICAR increased mitochondrial fusion factor mitofusin-1 (Mfn1) and mitofusin-2 (Mfn2) mRNA expression and upregulated p-Drp1 (Ser 637) protein expression. Mdivi-1, a Drp-1 inhibitor, was used to confirm whether mitochondrial dynamics regulated by Drp1-mediated the role of AICAR. Similar to AICAR, Mdivi-1 improved hepatocyte function and MMP significantly, decreased ROS production and lipid deposition, downregulated Fis1 and Mff mRNA expression, downregulated p-Drp1 (Ser 616) protein expression, and enhanced Mfn1 and Mfn2 mRNA and p-Drp1 (Ser 637) protein expression. However, Compound C, an AMPKspecific inhibitor, had less impact on the protective effect of Mdivi-1. <p> Conclusion: The results demonstrated that AMPK activation has a protective effect on hepatic steatosis in vitro, largely dependent on the inhibition of Drp1-mediated mitochondrial fission.


Hepatic steatosis, AMPK, mitochondrial dynamics, ROS, MMP, L-02 cell.


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