Sub-Chronic Microcystin-LR Liver Toxicity in Preexisting Diet-Induced Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis in Rats
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Washington State University, Spokane, WA 99202, USA
Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ 08901, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Toxins 2019, 11(7), 398; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11070398
Received: 13 June 2019 / Revised: 2 July 2019 / Accepted: 4 July 2019 / Published: 9 July 2019
Microcystin-LR (MCLR) is a hepatotoxic cyanotoxin reported to cause a phenotype similar to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). NASH is a common progressive liver disease that advances in severity due to exogenous stressors such as poor diet and toxicant exposure. Our objective was to determine how sub-chronic MCLR toxicity affects preexisting diet-induced NASH. Sprague-Dawley rats were fed one of three diets for 10 weeks: control, methionine and choline deficient (MCD), or high fat/high cholesterol (HFHC). After six weeks of diet, animals received vehicle, 10 µg/kg, or 30 µg/kg MCLR via intraperitoneal injection every other day for the final 4 weeks. Incidence and severity scoring of histopathology endpoints suggested that MCLR toxicity drove NASH to a less fatty and more fibrotic state. In general, expression of genes involved in de novo lipogenesis and fatty acid esterification were altered in favor of decreased steatosis. The higher MCLR dose increased expression of genes involved in fibrosis and inflammation in the control and HFHC groups. These data suggest MCLR toxicity in the context of preexisting NASH may drive the liver to a more severe phenotype that resembles burnt-out NASH.