Concomitant western diet and chronic-binge alcohol dysregulate hepatic metabolism.
Background and aims: There is significant overlap between non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and alcohol-associated liver disease (ALD) with regards to risk factors and disease progression. However, the mechanism by which fatty liver disease arises from concomitant obesity and overconsumption of alcohol (syndrome of metabolic and alcohol-associated fatty liver disease; SMAFLD), is not fully understood.
Methods: Male C57BL6/J mice were fed chow diet (Chow) or high-fructose, high-fat, high-cholesterol diet (FFC) for 4 weeks, then administered either saline or ethanol (EtOH, 5% in drinking water) for another 12 weeks. The EtOH treatment also consisted of a weekly 2.5 g EtOH/kg body weight gavage. Markers for lipid regulation, oxidative stress, inflammation, and fibrosis were measured by RT-qPCR, RNA-seq, Western blot, and metabolomics.
Results: Combined FFC-EtOH induced more body weight gain, glucose intolerance, steatosis, and hepatomegaly compared to Chow, EtOH, or FFC. Glucose intolerance by FFC-EtOH was associated with decreased hepatic protein kinase B (AKT) protein expression and increased gluconeogenic gene expression. FFC-EtOH increased hepatic triglyceride and ceramide levels, plasma leptin levels, hepatic Perilipin 2 protein expression, and decreased lipolytic gene expression. FFC and FFC-EtOH also increased AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) activation. Finally, FFC-EtOH enriched the hepatic transcriptome for genes involved in immune response and lipid metabolism.
Conclusions: In our model of early SMAFLD, we observed that the combination of an obesogenic diet and alcohol caused more weight gain, promoted glucose intolerance, and contributed to steatosis by dysregulating leptin/AMPK signaling. Our model demonstrates that the combination of an obesogenic diet with a chronic-binge pattern alcohol intake is worse than either insult alone.