Background and Aim: The prevalence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is higher in men than in women, but according to some epidemiological studies, this gender difference disappears after menopause. Estrogen therapy protects against NAFLD and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) after menopause. We investigated the therapeutic effect of raloxifene, a second-generation selective estrogen-receptor modulator, on NASH induced by a choline-deficient high-fat (CDHF) diet in female ovariectomized (OVX) mice. Methods: Seven-week-old female C57BL/6J mice were divided into three experimental groups as follows: (1) sham operation (SHAM group), (2) ovariectomy (OVX group), and (3) ovariectomy + raloxifene (intraperitoneal injection, 3 mg/kg body weight/day; OVX + RLX group). These three groups of mice were fed a CDHF diet for 8 weeks; choline-sufficient high-fat (CSHF) diet was used as control diet. Serum biochemical indicators of hepatic function and liver histological changes were evaluated. Results: Compared with CSHF diet, ovariectomy enhances liver injury and fibrosis in CDHF diet-fed mice. Serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels were significantly lower in the OVX + RLX group than in the OVX group. The OVX group developed extensive steatosis with inflammation and fibrosis. Lobular inflammatory scores and fibrosis staging in the OVX + RLX group were significantly lower than in the OVX group. Furthermore, the OVX + RLX group exhibited significantly higher expression of hepatic estrogen receptor-α, which was significantly lower in the OVX group than in the SHAM group. Conclusions: Raloxifene may ameliorate progression of liver fibrosis of NASH induced by CDHF diet in ovariectomized female mice, and up-regulation of estrogen receptor-α may play an important role in the beneficial effects of raloxifene on NASH.
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