Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) represents a spectrum of chronic liver disease ranging from simple steatosis (NAFL) to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). However, the molecular mechanisms of NASH progression remain incompletely understood. White adipose tissue (WAT) has emerged as an important endocrine organ and contributes not only to the initial stage of NAFLD, but also to its severity. In the current study, through transcriptomic analysis we identified increased expression of Sparcl1, a secreted glycoprotein, in the WAT from NASH mice. Plasma Sparcl1 levels were similarly elevated and positively correlated with hepatic pathological features in NASH patients. Functional studies showed that both chronic injection of recombinant Sparcl1 protein and overexpression of Sparcl1 exaggerated hepatic inflammation and liver injury in mice. In contrast, genetic ablation of Sparcl1, knockdown of Sparcl1 in WAT, and treatment with a Sparcl1-neutralizing antibody dramatically alleviated diet-induced NASH pathogenesis. Mechanistically, Sparcl1 promoted the expression of C-C motif chemokine ligand 2 (CCL2) in hepatocytes through binding to Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) and activation of the NF-κB/p65 signaling pathway. Genetically or pharmacologically blocking the CCL2/CCR2 pathway attenuated the hepatic inflammatory response evoked by Sparcl1. Thus, our results demonstrated an important role for Sparcl1 in NASH progression, suggesting a potential target for therapeutic intervention.
Bin Liu, Liping Xiang, Jing Ji, Wei Liu, Ying Chen, Mingfeng Xia, Yuejun Liu, Wenyue Liu, Peiwu Zhu, Yi Jin, Yu Han, Jieli Lu, Xiaoying Li, Minghua Zheng, Yan Lu