Background: The search for effective treatments of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), now the most common chronic liver disease in affluent countries, is hindered by a lack of animal models having the range of anthropometric and pathophysiological features as human NASH.
Aims: To examine if mice treated with gold thioglucose (GTG) – known to induce lesions in the ventromedial hypothalamus, leading to hyperphagia and obesity – and then fed a high-fat diet (HF) had a comprehensive histological and dysmetabolic phenotype resembling human NASH.
Methods: C57BL/6 mice were injected intraperitoneally with GTG and then fed HF for 12 weeks (GTG+HF). The extent of abdominal adiposity was assayed by CT scanning. A glucose tolerance test and an insulin tolerance test were performed to evaluate insulin resistance (IR). Histological, molecular and biochemical analyses were also performed.
Results: Gold thioglucose+HF induced dysmetabolism, with hyperphagia, obesity with increased abdominal adiposity, IR and consequent steatohepatitis, with hepatocyte ballooning, Mallory–Denk bodies, perivenular and pericellular fibrosis as seen in adult NASH, paralleled by an increased expression of the profibrogenic factors, transforming growth factor-β1 and TIMP-1. Plasma adiponectin and the expression of adiponectin receptor 1 and receptor 2 were decreased, while PPAR-γ and FAS were increased in the livers of GTG+HF mice. In addition, GTG+HF mice showed glucose intolerance and severe IR.
Conclusions: Treatment with GTG and HF diet induce, in mice, a comprehensive model of human NASH, with the full range of dysmetabolic and histological abnormalities.