Homocysteine supplementation attenuates the unfolded protein response in a murine nutritional model of steatohepatitis

Anne S. Henkel*, Marc S. Elias, Richard M. Green

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Hyperhomocysteinemia has been correlated with hepatic steatosis and activation of the unfolded protein response (UPR), yet a causal relationship has not been established. Although methionine and choline are essential components of homocysteine metabolism, the role of homocysteine in the pathogenesis of a methionine- and choline-deficient (MCD) diet remains unknown. We explored the effects of homocysteine supplementation on hepatic steatosis and the UPR in mice fed a control or MCD diet. Mice fed the MCD diet developed severe hyperhomocysteinemia and activation of the hepatic UPR. Supplementing the MCD diet with homocysteine attenuated the MCD diet-induced hepatic UPR activation and other injurious effects of the MCD diet including hepatic cholesterol accumulation, weight loss, and plasma ALT elevation. Homocysteine supplementation replenished the MCD diet-induced depletion of hepatic S-adenosylmethionine (SAM). Depleting SAM in HepG2 cells using MAT1α siRNA or cycloleucine resulted in enhanced activation of the UPR upon exposure to thapsigargin. Mice fed a control diet supplemented with homocysteine had a 3-fold elevation in plasma homocysteine level by 2 weeks and 6-fold elevation by 6 weeks but demonstrated no other pathophysiologic change. In summary, we found that homocysteine attenuates MCD diet-induced hepatic UPR activation, likely via repletion of hepatic SAM. Furthermore, homocysteine supplementation alone does not cause hepatic steatosis or UPR activation despite inducing hyperhomocysteinemia. These studies indicate that although hyperhomocysteinemia is often associated with hepatic steatosis and UPR activation, these effects may be a secondary response rather than a direct effect of homocysteine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31807-31816
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number46
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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