Ethanol Disrupts Metabolic Signaling in Liver Cells

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Alcohol abuse is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Excessive intake of alcohol can result to alcoholic fatty liver disease, the number one cause of live related mortalities in the US. The outlining purpose for this project is to determine the alcohol-induced changes in the liver cell protein signaling. For this project, we treated H4IIE rat hepatoma cells (with 100 and 200 mM ethanol overnight). H4IIE cells were chosen because they are a commonly used liver cell culture line that maintains characteristics of intact liver cells. After treatment we collected and prepared the cells for protein signaling analysis, using standard western blotting procedure. A western blot detects relative quantity of proteins in a sample. Briefly, protein samples are separated by size through electrophoresis, smaller proteins move faster through the gel so that the larger proteins are toward the top and smaller towards the bottom. The proteins are then transferred to a nitrocellulose membrane and protein concentration is detected by chemiluminescence. We chose to examine the effects of ethanol on the activation of the key regulator of metabolic signaling, Protein Kinase B/Akt (Akt). Based on our results, ethanol has no effect on the total amount of Akt in the H4IIE liver cells. However, ethanol significantly attenuates insulin-induced activation of Akt in a dose-dependent manner, as seen by a reduction in the amount of phosphorylated Akt. Therefore, we conclude that treatments that increase Akt activation may be a viable option for the treatment of alcoholic fatty liver disease.


Johnson City, TN

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