Epigenetic Modifications in the Biology of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease


The 5-Hydroxymethylcytosine (5-hmC) is an epigenetic modification whose role in the pathogenesis of metabolic-related complex diseases remains unexplored; 5-hmC appears to be prevalent in the mitochondrial genome. The Ten-Eleven-Translocation (TET) family of proteins is responsible for catalyzing the conversion of 5-methylcytosine to 5-hmC. We hypothesized that epigenetic editing by 5-hmC might be a novel mechanism through which nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)-associated molecular traits could be explained.Hence, we performed an observational study to explore global levels of 5-hmC in fresh liver samples of patients with NAFLD and controls (n = 90) using an enzyme-linked-immunosorbent serologic assay and immunohistochemistry. We also screened for genetic variation in TET 1-3 loci by next generation sequencing to explore its contribution to the disease biology. The study was conducted in 2 stages (discovery and replication) and included 476 participants.We observed that the amount of 5-hmC in the liver of both NAFLD patients and controls was relatively low (up to 0.1%); a significant association was found with liver mitochondrial DNA copy number (R = 0.50, P = 0.000382) and PPARGC1A-mRNA levels (R = -0.57, P = 0.04).We did not observe any significant difference in the 5-hmC nuclear immunostaining score between NAFLD patients and controls; nevertheless, we found that patients with NAFLD (0.4 ± 0.5) had significantly lower nonnuclear-5-hmC staining compared with controls (1.8 ± 0.8), means ± standard deviation, P = 0.028. The missense p.Ile1123Met variant (TET1-rs3998860) was significantly associated with serum levels of caspase-generated CK-18 fragment-cell death biomarker in the discovery and replication stage, and the disease severity (odds ratio: 1.47, 95% confidence interval: 1.10-1.97; P = 0.005). The p.Ile1762Val substitution (TET2-rs2454206) was associated with liver PPARGC1A-methylation and transcriptional levels, and Type 2 diabetes.Our results suggest that 5-hmC might be involved in the pathogenesis of NAFLD by regulating liver mitochondrial biogenesis and PPARGC1A expression. Genetic diversity at TET loci suggests an "epigenetic" regulation of programmed liver-cell death and a TET-mediated fine-tuning of the liver PPARGC1A-transcriptional program.

DOI: 10.1097/MD.0000000000001480

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@inproceedings{Pirola2015EpigeneticMI, title={Epigenetic Modifications in the Biology of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease}, author={Carlos J Pirola and Romina Scian and Tom{\'a}s Fern{\'a}ndez Gianotti and Hern{\'a}n Dopazo and Cristian Oscar Rohr and Julio San Martino and Gustavo Osvaldo Casta{\~n}o and Silvia Sookoian and Tarantino. Giovanni}, booktitle={Medicine}, year={2015} }