• Alcoholic Liver Injury;
  • Fatty Liver;
  • Oxidant Stress;
  • Transcription Factors;
  • Glutathione

Background:  Previous work demonstrated that the transcription factor, early growth response-1 (Egr-1), participates in the development of steatosis (fatty liver) after chronic ethanol (EtOH) administration. Here, we determined the extent to which Egr-1 is involved in fatty liver development in mice subjected to acute EtOH administration.

Methods:  In acute studies, we treated both wild-type and Egr-1 null mice with either EtOH or phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) by gastric intubation. At various times after treatment, we harvested sera and livers and quantified endotoxin, indices of liver injury, steatosis, and hepatic Egr-1 content. In chronic studies, groups of mice were fed liquid diets containing either EtOH or isocaloric maltose-dextrin for 7 to 8 weeks.

Results:  Compared with controls, acute EtOH-treated mice showed a rapid, transient elevation in serum endotoxin beginning 30 minutes after treatment. One hour postgavage, livers from EtOH-treated mice exhibited a robust elevation of both Egr-1 mRNA and protein. By 3 hours postgavage, liver triglyceride increased in EtOH-treated mice as did lipid peroxidation. Acute EtOH treatment of Egr-1-null mice showed no Egr-1 expression, but these animals still developed elevated triglycerides, although significantly lower than EtOH-fed wild-type littermates. Despite showing decreased fatty liver, EtOH-treated Egr-1 null mice exhibited greater liver injury. After chronic EtOH feeding, steatosis and liver enlargement were clearly evident, but there was no indication of elevated endotoxin. Egr-1 levels in EtOH-fed mice were equal to those of pair-fed controls.

Conclusions:  Acute EtOH administration induced the synthesis of Egr-1 in mouse liver. However, despite its robust increase, the transcription factor had a smaller, albeit significant, function in steatosis development after acute EtOH treatment. We propose that the rise in Egr-1 after acute EtOH is an hepatoprotective adaptation to acute liver injury from binge drinking that is triggered by EtOH metabolism and elevated levels of endotoxin.