During middle age, women are less susceptible to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) than men. Thus, we investigated the underlying molecular mechanisms behind these sexual differences using an established rat model of NASH. Mature female and male stroke-prone spontaneously hypertensive 5/Dmcr rats were fed control or high-fat-cholesterol (HFC) diets for 2, 8, and 14 weeks. Although HFC-induced hepatic fibrosis was markedly less severe in females than in males, only minor gender differences were observed in expression levels of cytochrome P450 enzymes (CYP)7A1, CYP8B1 CYP27A1, and CYP7B1, and multidrug resistance-associated protein 3, and bile salt export pump, which are involved in fibrosis-related bile acid (BA) kinetics. However, the BA detoxification-related enzymes UDP-glucuronosyltransferase (UGT) and sulfotransferase (SULT) 2A1, and the nuclear receptors constitutive androstane receptor (CAR) and pregnane X receptor (PXR), were strongly suppressed in HFC-fed males, and were only slightly changed in HFC-diet fed females. Expression levels of the farnesoid X receptor and its small heterodimer partner were similarly regulated in a gender-dependent fashion following HFC feeding. Hence, the pronounced female resistance to HFC-induced liver damage likely reflects sustained expression of the nuclear receptors CAR and PXR and the BA detoxification enzymes UGT and SULT.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
- General Agricultural and Biological Sciences