Lipid droplets (LDs), the organelles central to alcoholic steatosis, are broken down by lipophagy, a specialized form of autophagy. Here, we hypothesize that ethanol administration retards lipophagy by down-regulating dynamin 2 (Dyn2), a protein that facilitates lysosome re-formation, contributing to hepatocellular steatosis. Primary hepatocytes were isolated from male Wistar rats fed Lieber–DeCarli control or ethanol (EtOH) liquid diets for 6-8 weeks. Hepatocytes were incubated in complete medium (fed) or nutrient-free medium (fasting) with or without the Dyn2 inhibitor dynasore or the Src inhibitor SU6656. Phosphorylated (active) forms of Src and Dyn2 and markers of autophagy were quantified using western blot analysis. Colocalization of LDs with autophagic machinery was determined using confocal microscopy. In hepatocytes from pair-fed rats, LD breakdown was accelerated during fasting, as judged by smaller LDs and lower triglyceride (TG) content when compared with hepatocytes in complete media. Fasting-induced TG loss in control hepatocytes was significantly blocked by either SU6656 or Dynasore. Compared with controls, hepatocytes from EtOH-fed rats had 66% and 40% lower content of phosphorylated Src (pSrc) and phosphorylated Dyn2 (pDyn2), respectively, coupled with a lower rate of fasting-induced TG loss. This slower rate of fasting-induced TG loss was blocked in cells coincubated with Dynasore. Microscopic examination of EtOH-fed rat hepatocytes revealed increased colocalization of the autophagosome marker LC3 on LDs with a concomitant decrease in lysosome marker LAMP1. Whole livers and LD fractions of EtOH-fed rats exhibited simultaneous increase in LC3II and p62 over that of controls, indicating a block in lipophagy. Conclusion: Chronic ethanol administration slowed the rate of hepatocyte lipophagy, owing in part to lower levels of phosphorylated Src kinase available to activate its substrate, Dyn2, thereby causing depletion of lysosomes for LD breakdown. (Hepatology Communications 2017;1:501–512).
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