Intestinal CYP2E1: A mediator of alcohol-induced gut leakiness

Christopher B Forsyth, Robin M Voigt, Ali Keshavarzian
Redox Biology 2014, 3: 40-6
Chronic alcohol use can result in many pathological effects including alcoholic liver disease (ALD). While alcohol is necessary for the development of ALD, only 20-30% of alcoholics develop alcoholic steatohepatitis (ASH) with progressive liver disease leading to cirrhosis and liver failure (ALD). This suggests that while chronic alcohol consumption is necessary it is not sufficient to induce clinically relevant liver damage in the absence of a secondary risk factor. Studies in rodent models and alcoholic patients show that increased intestinal permeability to microbial products like endotoxin play a critical role in promoting liver inflammation in ALD pathogenesis. Therefore identifying mechanisms of alcohol-induced intestinal permeability is important in identifying mechanisms of ALD and for designing new avenues for therapy. Cyp2e1 is a cytochrome P450 enzyme that metabolizes alcohol has been shown to be upregulated by chronic alcohol use and to be a major source of oxidative stress and liver injury in alcoholics and in animal and in vitro models of chronic alcohol use. Because Cyp2e1 is also expressed in the intestine and is upregulated by chronic alcohol use, we hypothesized it could play a role in alcohol-induced intestinal hyperpermeability. Our in vitro studies with intestinal Caco-2 cells and in mice fed alcohol showed that circadian clock proteins CLOCK and PER2 are required for alcohol-induced permeability. We also showed that alcohol increases Cyp2e1 protein and activity but not mRNA in Caco-2 cells and that an inhibitor of oxidative stress or siRNA knockdown of Cyp2e1 prevents the increase in CLOCK or PER2 proteins and prevents alcohol-induced hyperpermeability. With our collaborators we have also shown that Cyp2e1 knockout mice are resistant to alcohol-induced gut leakiness and liver inflammation. Taken together our data support a novel Cyp2e1-circadian clock protein mechanism for alcohol-induced gut leakiness that could provide new avenues for therapy of ALD.

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