Hepatic miR-34a expression is elevated in diet-induced or genetically obese mice and patients with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), yet hepatocyte miR-34a's role in the progression of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) from non-alcoholic fatty liver (NAFL) to NASH remains to be elucidated.
Mice overexpressing or deficient in hepatocyte miR-34a and control mice were fed a diet enriched in fats, cholesterol, and fructose (HFCF) to induce NASH. C57BL/6 mice with NASH were treated with an miR-34a inhibitor or a scramble control oligo. The effect of miR-34a on the development, progression, and reversal of NAFLD was determined.
The hepatocyte-specific expression of miR-34a aggravated HFCF diet-induced NAFLD. In contrast, germline or adult-onset deletion of hepatocyte miR-34a attenuated the development and progression of NAFLD. In addition, pharmacological inhibition of miR-34a reversed HFCF diet-induced steatohepatitis. Mechanistically, hepatocyte miR-34a regulated the development and progression of NAFLD by inducing lipid absorption, lipogenesis, inflammation, and apoptosis but inhibiting fatty acid oxidation.
Hepatocyte miR-34a is an important regulator in the development and progression of NAFLD. MiR-34a may be a useful target for treating NAFLD.