Background Ossabaw miniature swine when fed a diet high in fructose, saturated fat and cholesterol (NASH diet) develop metabolic syndrome and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) characterized by liver injury and fibrosis. This study was conducted to further characterize the development of NASH in this large animal model. Methods Ossabaw swine were fed standard chow (control group; n = 6) or NASH diet (n = 6) for 24 weeks. Blood and liver tissue were collected and liver histology were characterized at 0, 8, 16 and 24 weeks of dietary intervention. Hepatic apoptosis and lipid levels were assessed at week 24. Results The NASH diet group developed metabolic syndrome and progressive histologic features of NASH including: (a) hepatocyte ballooning at 8 weeks which progressed to extensive ballooning (>90% hepatocytes), (b) hepatic fibrosis at week 16, which progressed to moderate fibrosis, and (c) Kupffer cell accumulation with vacuolization at 8 weeks which progressed through week 24. The NASH diet group showed increased hepatocyte apoptosis that correlated with hepatic total and free cholesterol and free fatty acids, but not esterified cholesterol or triglycerides.

Conclusions This report further characterizes the progression of diet-induced NASH in the Ossabaw swine model. In Ossabaw swine fed the NASH diet: (a) hepatocyte injury and fibrosis can occur without macrovesicular steatosis or excess triglyceride accumulation; (b) hepatocyte ballooning generally precedes the development of fibrosis; (c) there is increased hepatocyte apoptosis, and it is correlated more significantly with hepatic free cholesterol than hepatic free fatty acids and had no correlation with hepatic triglycerides.


This is the publisher PDF of Liang, T., Alloosh, M., Bell, L.N., Fullenkamp, A., Saxena, R., Van Alstine, W., Bybee, P., Werling, K., Sturek, M., Chalasani, N., Masuoka, H.C. Liver injury and fibrosis induced by dietary challenge in the ossabaw miniature swine. PLoS ONE Volume 10, Issue 5, 15 May 2015, Article number 0124173. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0124173. It is made available here CC-BY.

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