Regulation of liver hepcidin expression by alcohol in vivo does not involve Kupffer cell activation or TNF-α signaling

Duygu Dee Harrison-Findik, Elizabeth Klein, John Evans, John Gollan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Alcohol downregulates hepcidin expression in the liver leading to an increase in intestinal iron transport and liver iron storage. We have previously demonstrated that alcohol-mediated oxidative stress is involved in the inhibition of hepcidin transcription by alcohol in vivo. Kupffer cells and TNF-α play a key role in alcohol-induced liver injury. The aim of this study was to define their involvement in the regulation of hepcidin expression by alcohol. Kupffer cells were inactivated or depleted by employing gadolinium chloride and liposomes containing clodronate, respectively. Rats pair fed with the alcohol-Lieber-DeCarli diet for 6 wk and mice fed with 20% ethanol in the drinking water for 1 wk were used as experimental models. Interestingly, alcohol downregulated hepci-din expression in the livers of rats and mice independent of gadolinium chloride or clodronate treatment. One week of alcohol treatment was sufficient to induce a significant increase in TNF-α levels and phosphorylation of NF-kB subunit p65. The neutralization of TNF-α by specific antibodies inhibited p65 phosphorylation. However, neither the neutralization of TNF-α nor the lack of TNF-α receptor expression reversed alcohol-induced suppression of liver hepcidin expression. The level of alcohol-induced ROS in the liver was also undiminished following Kupffer cell inactivation or depletion. Our results demonstrate that alcohol-induced Kupffer cell activation and TNF-α signaling are not involved in the suppression of liver hepcidin expression by alcohol-mediated oxidative stress in vivo. Therefore, these findings suggest that alcohol acts within hepatocytes to suppress hepcidin expression and thereby influences iron homeostasis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)G112-G118
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009


  • Alcoholic liver disease
  • Iron
  • Liver injury
  • Oxidative stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Physiology (medical)


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