Lipotoxicity plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Hesperetin, a flavonoid derivative, has anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and cytoprotective properties. In the present study, we aim to examine whether hesperetin protects against palmitate-induced lipotoxic cell death and to investigate the underlying mechanisms in hepatocytes. Primary rat hepatocytes and HepG2 cells were pretreated with hesperetin for 30 min and then exposed to palmitate (1.0 mmol/L in primary rat hepatocytes; 0.5 mmol/L in HepG2 cells) in the presence or absence of hesperetin. Necrotic cell death was measured via Sytox green nuclei staining and quantified by LDH release assay. Apoptotic cell death was determined by caspase 3/7 activity and the protein level of cleaved-PARP. The unfolded protein response (UPR) was assessed by measuring the expression of GRP78, sXBP1, ATF4 and CHOP. Results show that hesperetin (50 μmol/L and 100 μmol/L) protected against palmitate-induced cell death and inhibited palmitate-induced endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in both primary rat hepatocytes and HepG2 cells. Hesperetin (100 μmol/L) significantly activated sXBP1/GRP78 signaling, whereas a high concentration of hesperetin (200 μmol/L) activated p-eIF2α and caused hepatic cell death. Importantly, GRP78 knockdown via siRNA abolished the protective effects of hesperetin in HepG2 cells. In conclusion, hesperetin protected against palmitate-induced hepatic cell death via activation of the sXBP1/GRP78 signaling pathway, thus inhibiting palmitate-induced ER stress. Moreover, high concentrations of hesperetin induce ER stress and subsequently cause cell death in hepatocytes.
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
- Unfolded protein response
- ENDOPLASMIC-RETICULUM STRESS
- SATURATED FATTY-ACIDS
- HEPG2 CELLS