Relationship between liver stiffness and steatosis in obesity conditions: in vivo and in vitro studies

Baldini, F., Khalil, M., Bartolozzi, A., Vassalli, M. , Di Ciaula, A., Portincasa, P. and Vergani, L. (2022) Relationship between liver stiffness and steatosis in obesity conditions: in vivo and in vitro studies. Biomolecules, 12(5), 733. (doi: 10.3390/biom12050733)

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Obesity is a major risk factor for metabolic dysfunction such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The NAFLD spectrum ranges from simple steatosis, to steatohepatitis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis. The aim of this study is to characterize the grade of steatosis being associated with overnutrition and obesity, both at the level of single hepatocyte and whole liver, and to correlate it with the hepatocyte/liver stiffness and dysfunction. For the in vivo study, 60 subjects were enrolled and grouped based on the stage of liver steatosis/fibrosis according to biochemical analyses, liver ultrasonography (USG) and acoustic radiation force impulse shear wave elastography (ARFI-SWE). For single hepatocyte analyses we employed in vitro models of moderate and severe steatosis on which to assess the single cell biomechanics by Single Cell Force Spectroscopy (SCFS) and Quantitative Phase Microscopy (QPM). Results show that in vivo liver stiffness depends mainly on the extent of fat accumulation and not on fibrosis. These results parallel the in vitro observations showing that hepatocyte stiffness and dysfunction increase with increasing fat accumulation and lipid droplet enlargement. Our findings indicate that the extent of steatosis markedly affects the biomechanical properties of both liver and single hepatocytes thus proving insights about the role of modulation of liver/hepatocyte elasticity as a physical mechanism transducing the obesity-dependent excess of plasmatic lipids towards liver steatosis and dysfunction.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This research was supported by grants from University of Genova (Vergani FRA no. 2018 and 2019).
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Vassalli, Professor Massimo
Authors: Baldini, F., Khalil, M., Bartolozzi, A., Vassalli, M., Di Ciaula, A., Portincasa, P., and Vergani, L.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Biomedical Engineering
Journal Name:Biomolecules
ISSN (Online):2218-273X
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 The Authors
First Published:First published in Biomolecules 12(5):733
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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