Transcription factor nuclear factor erythroid 2–related factor 2 (Nrf2) regulates multiple biologic processes, including hepatic lipid metabolism. Estrogen exerts actions affecting energy homeostasis, including a liver fat-lowering effect. Increasing evidence indicates the crosstalk between these two molecules. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether Nrf2 modulates estrogen signaling in hepatic lipid metabolism. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) was induced in wild-type and Nrf2-null mice fed a high-fat diet and the liver fat-lowering effect of exogenous estrogen was subsequently assessed. We found that exogenous estrogen eliminated 49% and 90% of hepatic triglycerides in wild-type and Nrf2-null mice with NAFLD, respectively. This observation demonstrates that Nrf2 signaling is antagonistic to estrogen signaling in hepatic fat metabolism; thus, Nrf2 absence results in striking amplification of the liver fat-lowering effect of estrogen. In addition, we found the association of trefoil factor 3 and fatty acid binding protein 5 with the liver fat-lowering effect of estrogen. In summary, we identified Nrf2 as a novel and potent inhibitor of estrogen signaling in hepatic lipid metabolism. Our finding may provide a potential strategy to treat NAFLD by dually targeting Nrf2 and estrogen signaling.
- Received January 19, 2016.
- Accepted May 5, 2016.
W.R. and Y.Z. contributed equally to this work.
This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases [Grant 7R01DK07596].
- Copyright © 2016 by The American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics