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NAFLD causes selective CD4(+) T lymphocyte loss and promotes hepatocarcinogenesis


Abstract

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the second most common cause of cancer-related death. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) affects a large proportion of the US population and is considered to be a metabolic predisposition to liver cancer. However, the role of adaptive immune responses in NAFLD-promoted HCC is largely unknown. Here we show, in mouse models and human samples, that dysregulation of lipid metabolism in NAFLD causes a selective loss of intrahepatic CD4(+) but not CD8(+) T lymphocytes, leading to accelerated hepatocarcinogenesis. We also demonstrate that CD4(+) T lymphocytes have greater mitochondrial mass than CD8(+) T lymphocytes and generate higher levels of mitochondrially derived reactive oxygen species (ROS). Disruption of mitochondrial function by linoleic acid, a fatty acid accumulated in NAFLD, causes more oxidative damage than other free fatty acids such as palmitic acid, and mediates selective loss of intrahepatic CD4(+) T lymphocytes. In vivo blockade of ROS reversed NAFLD-induced hepatic CD4(+) T lymphocyte decrease and delayed NAFLD-promoted HCC. Our results provide an unexpected link between lipid dysregulation and impaired anti-tumour surveillance.

Abstract

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the second most common cause of cancer-related death. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) affects a large proportion of the US population and is considered to be a metabolic predisposition to liver cancer. However, the role of adaptive immune responses in NAFLD-promoted HCC is largely unknown. Here we show, in mouse models and human samples, that dysregulation of lipid metabolism in NAFLD causes a selective loss of intrahepatic CD4(+) but not CD8(+) T lymphocytes, leading to accelerated hepatocarcinogenesis. We also demonstrate that CD4(+) T lymphocytes have greater mitochondrial mass than CD8(+) T lymphocytes and generate higher levels of mitochondrially derived reactive oxygen species (ROS). Disruption of mitochondrial function by linoleic acid, a fatty acid accumulated in NAFLD, causes more oxidative damage than other free fatty acids such as palmitic acid, and mediates selective loss of intrahepatic CD4(+) T lymphocytes. In vivo blockade of ROS reversed NAFLD-induced hepatic CD4(+) T lymphocyte decrease and delayed NAFLD-promoted HCC. Our results provide an unexpected link between lipid dysregulation and impaired anti-tumour surveillance.

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7 citations in Web of Science®
13 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Institute of Surgical Pathology
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:10 March 2016
Deposited On:23 May 2016 14:28
Last Modified:24 May 2016 07:53
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:0028-0836
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/nature16969
PubMed ID:26934227

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