Hepatocyte Adenosine Kinase Promotes Excessive Fat Deposition and Liver Inflammation

Honggui Li, Juan Zheng, Qian Xu, Yongjian Yang, Jing Zhou, Xinlei Guo, Yongfeng Cai, James J Cai, Linglin Xie, Joseph Awika, Xianlin Han, Qingsheng Li, Lindsey Kennedy, Heather Francis, Shannon Glaser, Yuqing Huo, Gianfranco Alpini, Chaodong Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND & AIMS: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is highly associated with obesity and progresses to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis when the liver develops overt inflammatory damage. While removing adenosine in the purine salvage pathway, adenosine kinase (ADK) regulates methylation reactions. We aimed to study whether hepatocyte ADK functions as an obesogenic gene/enzyme to promote excessive fat deposition and liver inflammation.

METHODS: Liver sections of human subjects were examined for ADK expression using immunohistochemistry. Mice with hepatocyte-specific ADK disruption or overexpression were examined for hepatic fat deposition and inflammation. Liver lipidomics, hepatocyte RNAseq, and single cell RNAseq for liver non-parenchymal cells (NPC) were performed to analyze ADK regulation of hepatocyte metabolic responses and hepatocyte-NPC crosstalk.

RESULTS: While NAFLD patients showed increased hepatic ADK levels, mice with hepatocyte-specific ADK disruption displayed decreased hepatic fat deposition under a chow diet and were protected from diet-induced excessive hepatic fat deposition and inflammation. In contrast, mice with hepatocyte-specific ADK overexpression displayed increased body weight and adiposity and elevated degrees of hepatic steatosis and inflammation compared with control mice. RNAseq and epigenetic analyses indicated that ADK increased hepatic DNA methylation and decreased hepatic Ppara expression and fatty acid oxidation. Lipidomic and scRNAseq analyses indicated that ADK-driven hepatocyte factors, due to mitochondrial dysfunction, enhanced macrophage proinflammatory activation in manners involving increased expression of stimulator of interferon genes.

CONCLUSIONS: Hepatocyte ADK functions to promote excessive fat deposition and liver inflammation through suppressing hepatocyte fatty acid oxidation and producing hepatocyte-derived proinflammatory mediators. Therefore, hepatocyte ADK is a therapeutic target for managing obesity and NAFLD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StateE-pub ahead of print - Sep 28 2022


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