BACKGROUND & AIMS: The pathogenesis of alcohol-induced liver disease (ALD) is poorly understood. Here, we examined the role of acid sphingomyelinase (ASMase) in alcohol induced hepatic endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, a key mechanism of ALD.
METHODS: We examined ER stress, lipogenesis, hyperhomocysteinemia, mitochondrial cholesterol (mChol) trafficking and susceptibility to LPS and concanavalin-A in ASMase(-)(/-) mice fed alcohol.
RESULTS: Alcohol feeding increased SREBP-1c, DGAT-2, and FAS mRNA in ASMase(+/+) but not in ASMase(-/-) mice. Compared to ASMase(+/+) mice, ASMase(-/-) mice exhibited decreased expression of ER stress markers induced by alcohol, but the level of tunicamycin-mediated upregulation of ER stress markers and steatosis was similar in both types of mice. The increase in homocysteine levels induced by alcohol feeding was comparable in both ASMase(+/+) and ASMase(-/-) mice. Exogenous ASMase, but not neutral SMase, induced ER stress by perturbing ER Ca(2+) homeostasis. Moreover, alcohol-induced mChol loading and StARD1 overexpression were blunted in ASMase(-/-) mice. Tunicamycin upregulated StARD1 expression and this outcome was abrogated by tauroursodeoxycholic acid. Alcohol-induced liver injury and sensitization to LPS and concanavalin-A were prevented in ASMase(-/-) mice. These effects were reproduced in alcohol-fed TNFR1/R2(-/-) mice. Moreover, ASMase does not impair hepatic regeneration following partial hepatectomy. Of relevance, liver samples from patients with alcoholic hepatitis exhibited increased expression of ASMase, StARD1, and ER stress markers.
CONCLUSIONS: Our data indicate that ASMase is critical for alcohol-induced ER stress, and provide a rationale for further clinical investigation in ALD.
- Disease Models, Animal
- Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress
- Hepatitis, Alcoholic
- Liver Diseases, Alcoholic
- Mice, Inbred C57BL
- Mice, Knockout
- Mitochondria, Liver
- N-Terminal Acetyltransferase A
- N-Terminal Acetyltransferase E
- Sphingomyelin Phosphodiesterase