Emerging evidence suggested mitophagy activation mitigates ethanol-induced liver injury. However, the effect of ethanol on mitophagy is inconsistent. Importantly, the understanding of mitophagy status after chronic ethanol consumption is limited. This study evaluated the effect of quercetin, a naturally-occurring flavonoid, on chronic ethanol-induced mitochondrial damage focused on mitophagy. An ethanol regime to mice for 15 weeks (accounting for 30% of total calories) led to significant mitochondrial damage as evidenced by changes of the mitochondrial ultrastructure, loss of mitochondrial membrane potential and remodeling of membrane lipid composition, which was greatly attenuated by quercetin (100 mg/kg.bw). Moreover, quercetin blocked chronic ethanol-induced mitophagy suppression as denoted by mitophagosomes-lysosome fusion and mitophagy-related regulator elements, including LC3II, Parkin, p62 and voltage-dependent anion channel 1 (VDAC1), paralleling with increased FoxO3a nuclear translocation. AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and extracellular signal regulated kinase 2 (ERK2), instead of AKT and Sirtuin 1, were involved in quercetin-mediated mitophagy activation. Quercetin alleviated ethanol-elicited mitochondrial damage through enhancing mitophagy, highlighting a promising preventive strategy for alcoholic liver disease.
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