Obesity is prevalent in modern society because of a lifestyle consisting of high dietary fat and sucrose consumption combined with little exercise. Among the consequences of obesity are the emerging epidemics of hepatic steatosis and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Sterol regulatory element-binding protein-1c (SREBP-1c) is a transcription factor that stimulates gene expression related to de novo lipogenesis in the liver. In response to a high-fat diet, the expression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) γ2, another nuclear receptor, is increased, which leads to the development of NAFLD. β-Conglycinin, a soy protein, prevents NAFLD induced by diets high in sucrose/fructose or fat by decreasing the expression and function of these nuclear receptors. β-Conglycinin also improves NAFLD via the same mechanism as for prevention. Fish oil contains n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids such as eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. Fish oil is more effective at preventing NAFLD induced by sucrose/fructose because SREBP-1c activity is inhibited. However, the effect of fish oil on NAFLD induced by fat is controversial because fish oil further increases PPARγ2 expression, depending upon the experimental conditions. Alcohol intake also causes an alcoholic fatty liver, which is induced by increased SREBP-1c and PPARγ2 expression and decreased PPARα expression. β-Conglycinin and fish oil are effective at preventing alcoholic fatty liver because β-conglycinin decreases the function of SREBP-1c and PPARγ2, and fish oil decreases the function of SREBP-1c and increases that of PPARα.
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