BioScience Trends. 2022;16(4):257-266. (DOI: 10.5582/bst.2022.01242)

Development of an in vitro insulin resistance dissociated model of hepatic steatosis by co-culture system

Xiao JW, Li X, Zhou ZB, Guan SW, Zhuo LJ, Gao BT


The evidence shows that there is an associated relationship between hepatosteatosis and insulin resistance. While some existing genetic induction animal and patient models challenge this relationship, indicating that hepatosteatosis is dissociated from insulin resistance. However, the molecular mechanisms of this dissociation remain poorly understood due to a lack of available, reliable, and simplistic setup models. Currently, we used primary rat hepatocytes (rHPCs), cocultured with rat hepatic stellate cells (HSC-T6) or human foreskin fibroblast cells (HFF-1) in stimulation with high insulin and glucose, to develop a model of steatosis charactered as dissociated lipid accumulation from insulin resistance. Oil-Red staining significantly showed intracellular lipid accumulated in the developed model. Gene expression of sterol regulatory element-binding protein 1c (SREBP1c) and elongase of very-long-chain fatty acids 6 (ELOVL6), key genes responsible for lipogenesis, were detected and obviously increased in this model. Inversely, the insulin resistance related genes expression included phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase 1 (PCK1), pyruvate dehydrogenase lipoamide kinase isozyme 4 (PDK4), and glucose-6-phosphatase (G6pase) were decreased, suggesting a dissociation relationship between steatosis and insulin resistance in the developed model. As well, the drug metabolism of this developed model was investigated and showed up-regulation of cytochrome P450 3A (CYP3A) and down-regulation of cytochrome P450 2E1 (CYP2E1) and cytochrome P450 1A2 (CYP1A2). Taken together, those results demonstrate that the in vitro model of dissociated steatosis from insulin resistance was successfully created by our cocultured cells in high insulin and glucose medium, which will be a potential model for investigating the mechanism of insulin resistance dissociated steatosis, and discovering a novel drug for its treatment.

KEYWORDS: hepatic steatosis, in vitro model, co-culture, dissociation, insulin resistance

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