2019 Volume 44 Issue 8 Pages 565-574
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is characterized by excessive deposition of droplets in hepatocytes. Patients with NAFLD can be at risk for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, which can lead to hepatocellular carcinoma. Autophagy is a cellular pathway that is crucial for survival and homeostasis, and which protects against pathophysiological changes like obesity and cancer. We determined the expression of autophagy markers in preneoplastic hepatic lesions and the effects of an autophagy repressor chloroquine (CQ) or inducer amiodarone (AM) in a steatosis-related hepatocarcinogenesis model. Male F344 rats were fed a control diet or high fat diet (HFD), and subjected to initiation and promotion steps with N-nitrosodiethylamine injection at week 0 and a partial hepatectomy at week 3. Several HFD-fed rats were administered 0.1% CQ and 0.5% AM in their drinking water during week 2 and 8. CQ and AM did not improve HFD-induced obesity. AM, but not CQ, significantly decreased the number of glutathione S-transferase placental form-positive preneoplastic liver foci in the liver. Autophagosome markers LC3 and the LC3-binding protein p62 were heterogeneously expressed in the preneoplastic foci. CQ might inhibit autophagy by significantly increased p62/LC3 ratio, while AM might have a potential of inducing autophagy by showing an increased gene expression of the autophagy regulator, Atg5. These results suggest that preneoplastic lesions express autophagosome markers and that AM might decrease steatosis-related early hepatocarcinogenesis by potentially inducing autophagy in HFD-fed rats, while inhibition of autophagy by CQ did not alter the hepatocarcinogenesis. However, an immunohistochemical trial revealed a technical limitation in detecting autophagosome markers because there were variations in each preneoplastic lesion.