Accumulation of lipids and oxidatively damaged DNA in hepatocytes exposed to particles

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Exposure to particles has been suggested to generate hepatosteatosis by oxidative stress mechanisms. We investigated lipid accumulation in cultured human hepatocytes (HepG2) and rat liver after exposure to four different carbon-based particles. HepG2 cells were exposed to particles for 3 h and subsequently incubated for another 18 h to manifest lipid accumulation. In an animal model of metabolic syndrome we investigated the association between intake of carbon black (CB, 14 nm) particles and hepatic lipid accumulation, inflammation and gene expression of Srebp-1, Fasn and Scd-1 involved in lipid synthesis. There was a concentration-dependent increase in intracellular lipid content after exposure to CB in HepG2 cells, which was only observed after co-exposure to oleic/palmitic acid. Similar results were observed in HepG2 cells after exposure to diesel exhaust particles, fullerenes C60 or pristine single-walled carbon nanotubes. All four types of particles also generated oxidatively damaged DNA, assessed as formamidopyrimidine DNA glycosylase (FPG) sensitive sites, in HepG2 cells after 3 h exposure. The animal model of metabolic syndrome showed increased lipid load in the liver after one oral exposure to 6.4 mg/kg of CB in lean Zucker rats. This was not associated with increased iNOS staining in the liver, indicating that the oral CB exposure was associated with hepatic steatosis rather than steatohepatitis. The lipid accumulation did not seem to be related to increased lipogenesis because there were unaltered gene expression levels in both the HepG2 cells and rat livers. Collectively, exposure to particles is associated with oxidative stress and steatosis in hepatocytes.HighlightsOral exposure to nanosized carbon black was associated with hepatosteatosis in rats.In vitro studies included carbon black, C60, diesel exhaust particles and SWCNTs.Exposure to particles and free fatty acids increased lipid load in HepG2 cells.Unaltered expression of lipogenesis genes despite oxidative stress in hepatocytesParticles evoke hepatosteatosis by increased uptake rather than synthesis of lipids.

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