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      Sinusoidal Endothelial Dysfunction Precedes Inflammation and Fibrosis in a Model of NAFLD


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          Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the hepatic manifestation of the metabolic syndrome. Most morbidity associated with the metabolic syndrome is related to vascular complications, in which endothelial dysfunction is a major pathogenic factor. However, whether NAFLD is associated with endothelial dysfunction within the hepatic vasculature is unknown. The aims of this study were to explore, in a model of diet-induced overweight that expresses most features of the metabolic syndrome, whether early NAFLD is associated with liver endothelial dysfunction. Wistar Kyoto rats were fed a cafeteria diet (CafD; 65% of fat, mostly saturated) or a control diet (CD) for 1 month. CafD rats developed features of the metabolic syndrome (overweight, arterial hypertension, hypertryglyceridemia, hyperglucemia and insulin resistance) and liver steatosis without inflammation or fibrosis. CafD rats had a significantly higher in vivo hepatic vascular resistance than CD. In liver perfusion livers from CafD rats had an increased portal perfusion pressure and decreased endothelium-dependent vasodilation. This was associated with a decreased Akt-dependent eNOS phosphorylation and NOS activity. In summary, we demonstrate in a rat model of the metabolic syndrome that shows features of NAFLD, that liver endothelial dysfunction occurs before the development of fibrosis or inflammation.

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          Most cited references 35

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          Atherosclerosis is an inflammatory disease

           Russell Ross (1999)
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            Animal models of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

            In 1980, Ludwig and colleagues described a series of patients with liver histology characterized by the accumulation of fat and the presence of hepatic necroinflammation in the absence of a history of excessive alcohol consumption. They coined the term nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which today is regarded as one of the most common causes of liver disease in affluent countries. NASH is a subset of a larger spectrum of diseases termed fatty liver disease (including alcoholic and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease; AFLD and NAFLD, respectively). NAFLD and NASH are linked to visceral adiposity, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia and type 2 diabetes, and are increasing due to the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome. In this context, research has been undertaken using animals to model human steatosis and NAFLD to NASH disease progression. This Review discusses the prevalent dietary and inflammation-based genetic animal models described in recent years.
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              Endothelial dysfunction and cardiovascular risk profile in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

              Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is consistently associated with features of the metabolic syndrome, a condition carrying a high risk of cardiovascular events. We measured the vasodilatory response of the brachial artery in response to ischemia (a test of endothelial function) (FMV) as well as cardiovascular risk profile in 52 NAFLD cases and 28 age- and sex-matched controls. The 10-year risk of coronary events was calculated according to the Framingham equation and the scores derived from the PROCAM study and NCEP-ATPIII proposals. FMV was 6.33% +/- 5.93% in NAFLD versus 12.22% +/- 5.05% in controls (P < .0001), and higher in pure fatty liver (9.93%) compared with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (4.94%) (P = .010). No differences were observed in flow-independent vasodilation (response to sublingual nitroglycerin). Percent FMV was negatively associated with insulin resistance (homeostasis model assessment) in the whole population (r = -0.243; P = .030). In logistic regression analysis, NAFLD was associated with a percent FMV in the lower tertile (OR, 6.7; 95% CI, 1.26-36.1), after adjustment for age, sex, body mass index, and insulin resistance. Among NAFLD patients, low FMV was associated with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (adjusted OR, 6.8; 95% CI, 1.2-40.2). The 10-year probability of cardiovascular events was moderately increased in NAFLD, and particularly in nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. In conclusion, our study provides evidence of endothelial dysfunction and increased risk of cardiovascular events in NAFLD. The risk of advanced liver disease is well recognized in NAFLD patients, but the large majority of cases might experience cardiovascular disease in the long term, indirectly limiting the burden of liver failure.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                3 April 2012
                : 7
                : 4
                Hepatic Hemodynamic Laboratory, Liver Unit, Hospital Clínic-IDIBAPS, CIBERrehd, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
                University of Tor Vergata, Italy
                Author notes

                Conceived and designed the experiments: JGA MP JB. Performed the experiments: MP HGC. Analyzed the data: MP JGA VLM JGS HGC ARV JCGP. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: JB JGA. Wrote the paper: MP JB JGA. Crtitical review of the manuscript for important intellectual content: VLM JGS HGC ARV JCGP.

                Pasarín et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
                Page count
                Pages: 9
                Research Article
                Model Organisms
                Animal Models
                Molecular Cell Biology
                Cellular Types
                Endothelial Cells
                Vascular Biology
                Gastroenterology and Hepatology
                Liver Diseases
                Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis
                Portal Hypertension
                Metabolic Disorders



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