Cholesterol burden in the liver induces mitochondrial dynamic changes and resistance to apoptosis

Mayra Domínguez-Pérez, Arturo Simoni-Nieves, Patricia Rosales, Natalia Nuño-Lámbarri, Mónica Rosas-Lemus, Verónica Souza, Roxana U. Miranda, Leticia Bucio, Salvador Uribe Carvajal, Jens U. Marquardt, Daekwan Seo, Luis E. Gomez-Quiroz, María Concepción Gutiérrez-Ruiz*

*Corresponding author for this work
24 Citations (Scopus)


Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) encompasses a broad spectrum of histopathological changes ranging from non-inflammatory intracellular fat deposition to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which may progress into hepatic fibrosis, cirrhosis, or hepatocellular carcinoma. Recent data suggest that impaired hepatic cholesterol homeostasis and its accumulation are relevant to the pathogenesis of NAFLD/NASH. Despite a vital physiological function of cholesterol, mitochondrial dysfunction is an important consequence of dietary-induced hypercholesterolemia and was, subsequently, linked to many pathophysiological conditions. The aim in the current study was to evaluate the morphological and molecular changes of cholesterol overload in mouse liver and particularly, in mitochondria, induced by a high-cholesterol (HC) diet for one month. Histopathological studies revealed microvesicular hepatic steatosis and significantly elevated levels of liver cholesterol and triglycerides leading to impaired liver synthesis. Further, high levels of oxidative stress could be determined in liver tissue as well as primary hepatocyte culture. Transcriptomic changes induced by the HC diet involved disruption in key pathways related to cell death and oxidative stress as well as upregulation of genes related to glutathione homeostasis. Impaired liver function could be associated with a decrease in mitochondrial membrane potential and ATP content and significant alterations in mitochondrial dynamics. We demonstrate that cholesterol overload in the liver leads to mitochondrial changes which may render damaged hepatocytes proliferative and resistant to cell death whereby perpetuating liver damage.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cellular Physiology
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)7213-7223
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 05.2019


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