Fructose Promotes Leaky Gut, Endotoxemia, and Liver Fibrosis Through Ethanol-Inducible Cytochrome P450-2E1–Mediated Oxidative and Nitrative Stress

Young Eun Cho, Do Kyun Kim, Wonhyo Seo, Bin Gao, Seong Ho Yoo, Byoung Joon Song

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

133 Scopus citations


Fructose intake is known to induce obesity, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). We aimed to evaluate the effects of fructose drinking on gut leakiness, endotoxemia, and NAFLD and study the underlying mechanisms in rats, mice, and T84 colon cells. Levels of ileum junctional proteins, oxidative stress markers, and apoptosis-related proteins in rodents, T84 colonic cells, and human ileums were determined by immunoblotting, immunoprecipitation, and immunofluorescence analyses. Fructose drinking caused microbiome change, leaky gut, and hepatic inflammation/fibrosis with increased levels of nitroxidative stress marker proteins cytochrome P450-2E1 (CYP2E1), inducible nitric oxide synthase, and nitrated proteins in small intestine and liver of rodents. Fructose drinking significantly elevated plasma bacterial endotoxin levels, likely resulting from decreased levels of intestinal tight junction (TJ) proteins (zonula occludens 1, occludin, claudin-1, and claudin-4), adherent junction (AJ) proteins (β-catenin and E-cadherin), and desmosome plakoglobin, along with α-tubulin, in wild-type rodents, but not in fructose-exposed Cyp2e1-null mice. Consistently, decreased intestinal TJ/AJ proteins and increased hepatic inflammation with fibrosis were observed in autopsied obese people compared to lean individuals. Furthermore, histological and biochemical analyses showed markedly elevated hepatic fibrosis marker proteins in fructose-exposed rats compared to controls. Immunoprecipitation followed by immunoblot analyses revealed that intestinal TJ proteins were nitrated and ubiquitinated, leading to their decreased levels in fructose-exposed rats. Conclusion: These results showed that fructose intake causes protein nitration of intestinal TJ and AJ proteins, resulting in increased gut leakiness, endotoxemia, and steatohepatitis with liver fibrosis, at least partly, through a CYP2E1-dependent manner.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2180-2195
Number of pages16
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021

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© 2019 by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.


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