Hepatocyte cell death, inflammation and oxidative stress constitute key pathogenic mechanisms underlying non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). We aimed to investigate the role of necroptosis in human and experimental NAFLD and its association with tumour necrosis factor α (TNF-α) and oxidative stress. Serum markers of necrosis, liver receptor-interacting protein 3 (RIP3) and phosphorylated mixed lineage kinase domain-like (MLKL) were evaluated in control individuals and patients with NAFLD. C57BL/6 wild-type (WT) or RIP3-deficient (RIP3−/−) mice were fed a high-fat choline-deficient (HFCD) or methionine and choline-deficient (MCD) diet, with subsequent histological and biochemical analysis of hepatic damage. In primary murine hepatocytes, necroptosis and oxidative stress were also assessed after necrostatin-1 (Nec-1) treatment or RIP3 silencing. We show that circulating markers of necrosis and TNF-α, as well as liver RIP3 and MLKL phosphorylation were increased in NAFLD. Likewise, RIP3 and MLKL protein levels and TNF-α expression were increased in the liver of HFCD and MCD diet-fed mice. Moreover, RIP3 and MLKL sequestration in the insoluble protein fraction of NASH (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis) mice liver lysates represented an early event during stetatohepatitis progression. Functional studies in primary murine hepatocytes established the association between TNF-α-induced RIP3 expression, activation of necroptosis and oxidative stress. Strikingly, RIP3 deficiency attenuated MCD diet-induced liver injury, steatosis, inflammation, fibrosis and oxidative stress. In conclusion, necroptosis is increased in the liver of NAFLD patients and in experimental models of NASH. Further, TNF-α triggers RIP3-dependent oxidative stress during hepatocyte necroptosis. As such, targeting necroptosis appears to arrest or at least impair NAFLD progression.

You do not currently have access to this content.