Decreased proteasome activity is associated with increased severity of liver pathology and oxidative stress in experimental alcoholic liver disease

Terrence M. Donohue, Kusum K. Kharbanda, Carol A. Casey, Amin A. Nanji

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Background: Because of its role in degrading the bulk of intracellular proteins and eliminating damaged proteins, the proteasome is important in maintaining cell viability. Previously, we showed a 35-40% decrease in proteasome peptidase activity when ethanol was administered to rats by intragastric infusion. We hypothesized that this reduction was caused by ethanol-elicited oxidative stress, the degree of which varies depending on the method of ethanol administration. This study examined the relationship of proteasome activity and content with ethanol-induced oxidative stress and the degree of liver injury. Methods: Rats were given ethanol or isocaloric dextrose-containing liquid diets by intragastric infusion for 1 month. The diets contained medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), palm oil (PO), corn oil (CO), or fish oil (FO) as the principal source of fat. Results: Rats given ethanol and MCT exhibited no significant liver pathology, whereas cumulative pathology scores in ethanol-fed rats given PO, CO, or FO were 2.5,5.4 and 7.0, respectively, indicating that ethanol and FO caused the greatest liver damage. The severity of liver pathology in the last three groups of animals correlated with levels of lipid peroxides and serum 8-isoprostanes. Alpha smooth muscle actin, an indicator of stellate cell activation, was increased relative to controls in the livers of all ethanol-fed rats except FO-fed animals, in which both control and ethanol-fed rats had similar levels of this protein. In livers of CO and FO ethanol-fed rats, proteasome chymotrypsin-like activity was decreased by 55-60%, but there was no quantitative alteration in 20S proteasome subunit content. In contrast, ethanol affected neither proteasome activity nor its content in MCT- and PO-treated animals. Conclusions: Our findings indicate that the severity of liver injury and ethanol-induced oxidative stress is associated with a reduction in proteasome catalysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1257-1263
Number of pages7
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2004


  • Ethanol
  • Liver injury
  • Proteasome
  • Protein oxidation
  • Proteolysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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