Animal models of steatohepatitis.
Animal models of hepatic steatosis and steatohepatitis have improved our understanding of the pathogenesis of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Three models, genetically obese ob/ob mice, lipoatrophic mice and normal rats fed choline-deficient, methionine-restricted diets, have been particularly informative. All support the multiple 'hit' hypothesis for NAFLD pathogenesis that suggests that fatty livers are unusually vulnerable to oxidants and develop steatohepatitis when secondary insults generate sufficient oxidants to cause liver cell death and inflammation. Steatohepatitis, in turn, increases sensitivity to other insults that induce hepatic fibrosis, promoting the evolution of cirrhosis. Early during NAFLD pathogenesis, inhibitor kappa kinase beta (IKKbeta), an enzyme that induces tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha) and other proinflammatory cytokines, is activated and this causes insulin resistance. Inhibition of IKKbeta or TNFalpha improves insulin sensitivity, steatosis and steatohepatitis in animals, suggesting novel strategies to prevent and treat early NAFLD in humans.
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