TNF-α mediates mitochondrial uncoupling and enhances ROS-dependent cell migration via NF-κB activation in liver cells.
The role of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in liver disease is controversial. This mostly reflects the difficulties to quantify ROS in vivo, particularly in humans. We aimed to measure the presence of ROS in diseased human liver and identify possible relations between ROS levels and etiology, histology and hepatocyte proliferation. Liver biopsy specimens from 102 individuals: 18 healthy controls and 84 patients (42 HCV chronic hepatitis (CHC), 19 HBV chronic hepatitis (CHB), 7 PBC, 4 PSC, 4 HCV relapsing hepatitis after liver transplantation, 3 autoimmune hepatitis, 3 hepatocellular carcinoma, 2 alcoholic hepatitis) underwent analysis by radical-probe electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR). ROS in patients (median = 5 x 10(-6) mmol/mg) were higher than in controls (median = 3 x 10(-11) mmol/mg) (p < 0.001). Progressively increasing levels of ROS were recorded passing from control values to CHB (median = 4 x 10(-7) mmol/mg), CHC (median = 3 x 10(-6) mmol/mg) and PBC (median = 2 x 10(-5) mmol/mg), the differences being significant (p < 0.001). ROS in CHC positively correlated with histological disease activity (r = 0.92; p < 0.001). No correlation was found between ROS and hepatocyte proliferation rate, presence/degree of steatosis, serum ferritin levels and aminotransferases. ROS overproduction in liver appears to be a common thread linking different pathologic conditions and seems to be influenced by diseases' etiologies.