The purpose of this study was to clarify the hepatoprotective mechanisms of fish oil in ethanol-fed rats based on lipid metabolism. Thirty eight-week-old male Wistar rats were divided into six groups: C (control), CF25 (control diet with 25% fish oil substitution), CF57 (control diet with 57% fish oil substitution), E (ethanol-containing diet) group, EF25 (ethanol-containing diet with 25% fish oil substitution), and EF57 (ethanol-containing diet with 57% fish oil substitution) groups. All of the groups were pair-fed an isoenergetic diet based on E group. Rats were sacrificed after eight weeks. When compared with C group, the plasma aspartate transaminase (AST) activity and hepatic steatosis and inflammatory cell infiltration were significantly higher, while plasma adiponectin level and hepatic AMP-activated protein kinase α (AMPKα) protein expression was significantly lower in the E group. However, the hepatic damage, including steatosis and inflammation were ameliorated in the EF25 and EF57 groups. Moreover, mRNA levels of fatty acid-oxidative enzymes, such as medium-chain acyl-coenzyme A dehydrogenase (MCAD) and carnitine palmitoyltransferase I (CPT-1) were significantly elevated in the EF57 group than those in E group. Partial replacement with fish oil might improve the fatty acid oxidation by raising mRNA levels of downstream transcription factors, finally inhibit the ethanol-induced hepatic steatosis in rats.
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