Low abundance of mitofusin 2 in dairy cows with moderate fatty liver is associated with alterations in hepatic lipid metabolism

Jihong Dong, Juan J. Loor, Rankun Zuo, Xiying Chen, Yusheng Liang, Y. Wang, Xin Shu, Xudong Sun, Hongdou Jia, Guowen Liu, Zhe Wang, Xiaobing Li, Xinwei Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

High blood concentrations of nonesterified fatty acids (NEFA) and altered lipid metabolism are key characteristics of fatty liver in dairy cows. In nonruminants, the mitochondrial membrane protein mitofusin 2 (MFN2) plays important roles in regulating mitochondrial function and intrahepatic lipid metabolism. Whether MFN2 is associated with hepatic lipid metabolism in dairy cows with moderate fatty liver is unknown. Therefore, to investigate changes in MFN2 expression and lipid metabolic status in dairy cows with moderate fatty liver, blood and liver samples were collected from healthy dairy cows (n = 10) and cows with moderate fatty liver (n = 10). To determine the effects of MFN2 on lipid metabolism in vitro, hepatocytes isolated from healthy calves were used for small interfering RNA–mediated silencing of MFN2 or adenovirus-mediated overexpression of MFN2 for 48 h, or treated with 0, 0.6, 1.2, or 2.4 mM NEFA for 12 h. Milk production and plasma glucose concentrations in dairy cows with moderate fatty liver were lower, but concentrations of NEFA and β-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) were greater in dairy cows with moderate fatty liver. Dairy cows with moderate fatty liver displayed hepatic lipid accumulation and lower abundance of hepatic MFN2, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-α (PPARα), and carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1A (CPT1A). However, sterol regulatory element-binding protein 1c (SREBP-1c), acetyl CoA carboxylase 1 (ACACA), fatty acid synthase (FASN), and diacylglycerol acyltransferase 1 (DGAT1) were more abundant in the livers of dairy cows with moderate fatty liver. In vitro, exogenous NEFA treatment upregulated abundance of SREBP-1c, ACACA, FASN, and DGAT1, and downregulated the abundance of PPARα and CPT1A. These changes were associated with greater lipid accumulation in calf hepatocytes, and MFN2 silencing aggravated this effect. In contrast, overexpression of MFN2-ameliorated exogenous NEFA-induced lipid accumulation by downregulating the abundance of SREBP-1c, ACACA, FASN, and DGAT1, and upregulating the abundance of PPARα and CPT1A in calf hepatocytes. Overall, these data suggest that one cause for the negative effect of excessive NEFA on hepatic lipid accumulation is the inhibition of MFN2. As such, these mechanisms partly explain the development of hepatic steatosis in dairy cows.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7536-7547
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Volume102
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2019

Keywords

  • dairy cows
  • lipid metabolism
  • mitofusin 2
  • moderate fatty liver

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics

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