The increase in fructose consumption is considered to be a risk factor for developing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). We investigated the effects of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) on hepatic lipid metabolism in fructose-treated primary mouse hepatocytes, and the changes of Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress pathways in response to DHA treatment. The hepatocytes were treated with fructose, DHA, fructose plus DHA, tunicamycin (TM) or fructose plus 4-phenylbutyric acid (PBA) for 24 h. Intracellular triglyceride (TG) accumulation was assessed by Oil Red O staining. The mRNA expression levels and protein levels related to lipid metabolism and ER stress response were determined by real-time PCR and Western blot. Fructose treatment led to obvious TG accumulation in primary hepatocytes through increasing expression of fatty acid synthase (FAS) and acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC), two key enzymes in hepatic de novo
lipogenesis. DHA ameliorates fructose-induced TG accumulation by upregulating the expression of carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1A (CPT-1α) and acyl-CoA oxidase 1 (ACOX1). DHA treatment or pretreatment with the ER stress inhibitor PBA significantly decreased TG accumulation and reduced the expression of glucose-regulated protein 78 (GRP78), total inositol-requiring kinase 1 (IRE1α) and p-IRE1α. The present results suggest that DHA protects against high fructose-induced hepatocellular lipid accumulation. The current findings also suggest that alleviating the ER stress response seems to play a role in the prevention of fructose-induced hepatic steatosis by DHA.
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