Background: The molecular pathogenesis of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is not well defined. The objective of the present study was to identify disease progression-related cytokines and investigate the molecular pathogenesis of such changes in NASH. Methods: A study population of 20 non-alcoholic fatty liver (NAFL) and 59 NASH patients diagnosed by liver biopsy and 15 healthy volunteers was recruited. The serum pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines were measured by a multiple enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The hepatic mRNA expressions of cytokines were measured by real-time PCR. A monocyte cell line was stimulated with Toll-like receptor (TLR) ligand under a high glucose and insulin condition, and cellular cytokine mRNA expression was quantified. Results: One group of cytokines was higher in NAFL and NASH than in controls, while another group was higher in NASH than in NAFL and controls. The NASH-specific second group included interleukin (IL)-15 and interferon-γ-inducible protein (IP)-10. In particular, IP-10 was higher in NAFL than in controls and higher in NASH than in NAFL and controls. The sensitivity to diagnose NASH was 90%, with specificity of 50%. Insulin resistance reflecting a high glucose and insulin condition resulted in higher IP-10 mRNA expression in the monocyte cell line only with concomitant TLR-2 stimulation. Conclusions: IP-10 is a sensitive marker of the need for liver biopsy. Insulin resistance with bacteria-related TLR-2 stimulation might induce IP-10 production from monocytes. Insulin resistance and intestinal barrier function should be intensively controlled to prevent progression from NAFL to NASH.
- Insulin resistance, interferon-γ-inducible protein-10
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
- Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis
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