Inhibition of vascular adhesion protein-1 modifies hepatic steatosis in vitro and in vivo

Emma L Shepherd, Sumera Karim, Philip N Newsome, Patricia F Lalor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is associated with obesity, insulin resistance and dyslipidaemia and currently is estimated to affect up to a third of all individuals in developed countries. Current standard of care for patients varies according to disease stage, but includes lifestyle interventions common insulin sensitizers, antioxidants and lipid modifiers. However, to date specific therapies have shown little histological or fibrosis stage improvement in large clinical trials, and there is still no licensed therapy for NAFLD. Given the high prevalence, limited treatment options and significant screening costs for the general population, new treatments are urgently required.

AIM: To assess the potential for inhibition of the amine oxidase enzyme vascular adhesion protein-1 (VAP-1) to modify hepatic lipid accumulation in NAFLD.

METHODS: We have used immunochemical and qPCR analysis to document expression of VAP-1 and key functional proteins and transporters across the NAFLD spectrum. We then utilised hepatocytes in culture and human precision cut liver slices in concert with selective enzyme activity inhibitors to test the effects of activating the semicarbazide-sensitive amine oxidase activity of VAP-1 on hepatic lipid uptake and triglyceride export. A murine model of NAFLD was also used to determine the consequences of VAP-1 knockout and gene expression arrays were used to quantify the effects of VAP-1 activity on key lipid modifying and proinflammatory gene expression.

RESULTS: We confirmed that increasing severity of NAFLD and progression to cirrhosis was associated with a significant increase in hepatocellular VAP-1 expression. Hepatocytes in vitro exposed to recombinant VAP-1 and its substrate methylamine showed increased lipid accumulation as determined by quantification of Oil Red O uptake. This was recapitulated using hydrogen peroxide, and lipid accumulation was accompanied by changes in expression of the lipid transporter molecules FABP3, FATP6, insulin receptor subunits and PPARα. Human liver tissue exposed to recombinant VAP-1 or substrates for endo/exogenous VAP-1 produced less triglyceride than untreated tissue and demonstrated an increase in steatosis. This response could be inhibited by using bromoethylamine to inhibit the SSAO activity of VAP-1, and mice deficient in VAP-1/AOC3 also demonstrated reduced steatosis on high fat diet. Exposure of human liver tissue to methylamine to activate VAP-1 resulted in increased expression of FABP2 and 4, FATP3-5, caveolin-1, VLDLR, PPARGC1 and genes associated with the inflammatory response.

CONCLUSION: Our data confirm that the elevations in hepatic VAP-1 expression reported in nonalcoholic steatohepatitis can contribute to steatosis, metabolic disturbance and inflammation. This suggests that targeting the semicarbazide sensitive amine oxidase capacity of VAP-1 may represent a useful adjunct to other therapeutic strategies in NAFLD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)931-948
Number of pages18
JournalWorld journal of hepatology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 27 Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

©The Author(s), 2020. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. This article is an open-access article that was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative
Commons Attribution NonCommercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:


  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Hepatocyte
  • Lipid
  • Cell biology
  • Vascular adhesion protein-1
  • Steatosis


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