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Open Access Research

The effect of cocoa supplementation on hepatic steatosis, reactive oxygen species and LFABP in a rat model of NASH

Mile Janevski1, Kiriakos N Antonas2, Melanie J Sullivan-Gunn1, Maree A McGlynn3 and Paul A Lewandowski1*

Author Affiliations

1 School of Medicine, Deakin University, Waurn Ponds, Australia

2 School of Biomedical Science, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia

3 School of Sport and Science, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia

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Comparative Hepatology 2011, 10:10  doi:10.1186/1476-5926-10-10

Published: 14 November 2011

Abstract

Background

Non alcoholic steatohepatitis is hypothesised to develop via a mechanism involving fat accumulation and oxidative stress. The current study aimed to investigate if an increase in oxidative stress was associated with changes in the expression of liver fatty acid binding protein in a rat model of non alcoholic steatohepatitis and whether cocoa supplementation attenuated those changes.

Methods

Female Sprague Dawley rats were fed a high fat control diet, a high fat methionine choline deficient diet, or one of four 12.5% cocoa supplementation regimes in combination with the high fat methionine choline deficient diet.

Results

Liver fatty acid binding protein mRNA and protein levels were reduced in the liver of animals with fatty liver disease when compared to controls. Increased hepatic fat content was accompanied by higher levels of oxidative stress in animals with fatty liver disease when compared to controls. An inverse association was found between the levels of hepatic liver fatty acid binding protein and the level of hepatic oxidative stress in fatty liver disease. Elevated NADPH oxidase protein levels were detected in the liver of animals with increased severity in inflammation and fibrosis. Cocoa supplementation was associated with partial attenuation of these pathological changes, although the severity of liver disease induced by the methionine choline deficient diet prevented complete reversal of any disease associated changes. Red blood cell glutathione was increased by cocoa supplementation, whereas liver glutathione was reduced by cocoa compared to methionine choline deficient diet fed animals.

Conclusion

These findings suggest a potential role for liver fatty acid binding protein and NADPH oxidase in the development of non alcoholic steatohepatitis. Furthermore, cocoa supplementation may have be of therapeutic benefit in less sever forms of NASH.

Keywords:
Non alcoholic steatohepatitis; NASH, oxidative stress; antioxidant; liver fatty acid binding protein; NADPH oxidase; cocoa