Polychlorinated Biphenyl-Xenobiotic Nuclear Receptor Interactions Regulate Energy Metabolism, Behavior, and Inflammation in Non-alcoholic-Steatohepatitis

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Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are environmental pollutants associated with non-alcoholic-steatohepatitis (NASH), diabetes, and obesity. We previously demonstrated that the PCB mixture, Aroclor 1260, induced steatohepatitis and activated nuclear receptors in a diet-induced obesity mouse model. This study aims to evaluate PCB interactions with the pregnane-xenobiotic receptor (Pxr: Nr1i2) and constitutive androstane receptor (Car: Nr1i3) in NASH. Wild type C57Bl/6 (WT), Pxr−/− and Car−/− mice were fed the high fat diet (42% milk fat) and exposed to a single dose of Aroclor 1260 (20 mg/kg) in this 12-week study. Metabolic phenotyping and analysis of serum, liver, and adipose was performed. Steatohepatitis was pathologically similar in all Aroclor-exposed groups, while Pxr−/− mice displayed higher basal pro-inflammatory cytokine levels. Pxr repressed Car expression as evident by increased basal Car/Cyp2b10 expression in Pxr−/− mice. Both Pxr−/− and Car−/− mice showed decreased basal respiratory exchange rate (RER) consistent with preferential lipid metabolism. Aroclor increased RER and carbohydrate metabolism, associated with increased light cycle activity in both knockouts, and decreased food consumption in the Car−/− mice. Aroclor exposure improved insulin sensitivity in WT mice but not glucose tolerance. The Aroclor-exposed, Pxr−/− mice displayed increased gluconeogenic gene expression. Lipid-oxidative gene expression was higher in WT and Pxr−/− mice although RER was not changed, suggesting PCB-mediated mitochondrial dysfunction. Therefore, Pxr and Car regulated inflammation, behavior, and energy metabolism in PCB-mediated NASH. Future studies should address the ‘off-target’ effects of PCBs in steatohepatitis.

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