We investigated the role of secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure, independently of diet, in the development of chronic liver disease. Standard diet-fed mice were exposed to SHS (5 h/day, 5 days/week for 4 months). Genome-wide gene expression analysis, together with molecular pathways and gene network analyses, and histological examination for lipid accumulation, inflammation, fibrosis, and glycogen deposition were performed on the liver of SHS-exposed mice and controls, upon termination of exposure and after one-month recovery in clean air. Aberrantly expressed transcripts were found in the liver of SHS-exposed mice both pre- and post-recovery in clean air (n = 473 vs. 222). The persistent deregulated transcripts (n = 210) predominantly affected genes and functional networks involved in lipid metabolism as well as in the regulation of the endoplasmic reticulum where manufacturing of lipids occurs. Significant hepatic fat accumulation (steatosis) was observed in the SHS-exposed mice, which progressively increased as the animals underwent recovery in clean air. Moderate increases in lobular inflammation infiltrates and collagen deposition as well as loss of glycogen were also detectable in the liver of SHS-exposed mice. A more pronounced phenotype, manifested as a disrupted cord-like architecture with foci of necrosis, apoptosis, inflammation, and macrovesicular steatosis, was observed in the liver of SHS-exposed mice post-recovery. The progressive accumulation of hepatic fat and other adverse histological changes in the SHS-exposed mice are highly consistent with the perturbation of key lipid genes and associated pathways in the corresponding animals. Our data support a role for SHS in the genesis and progression of metabolic liver disease through deregulation of genes and molecular pathways and functional networks involved in lipid homeostasis.
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