Int J Biol Sci 2022; 18(3):1096-1106. doi:10.7150/ijbs.67533 This issue

Research Paper

The role of MLKL in Hepatic Ischemia-Reperfusion Injury of Alcoholic Steatotic Livers

Hao Chen#, Tara McKeen#, Xiaojuan Chao, Allen Chen, Fengyan Deng, Hartmut Jaeschke, Wen-Xing Ding, Hong-Min Ni

Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Therapeutics, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas 66160, USA.
#These authors contributed equally.

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Chen H, McKeen T, Chao X, Chen A, Deng F, Jaeschke H, Ding WX, Ni HM. The role of MLKL in Hepatic Ischemia-Reperfusion Injury of Alcoholic Steatotic Livers. Int J Biol Sci 2022; 18(3):1096-1106. doi:10.7150/ijbs.67533. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Alcohol-related liver disease (ALD) and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) are the primary causes of chronic liver disease in western countries. Liver transplantation is currently one of the most efficient approaches to save patients with liver failure, which is often associated with hepatic ischemia-reperfusion (IR) injury. IR injury is exacerbated by hepatic steatosis, yet the mechanism remains elusive. Necroptosis is a form of regulated cell death mediated by receptor-interacting protein kinase 1 (RIP1), RIP3 and mixed lineage kinase domain-like (MLKL) protein, which has been implicated in the pathogenesis of ALD and NAFLD. Though necroptosis plays an important role in IR injury of high fat diet - induced steatotic livers, the role of necroptosis in IR injury of ethanol - induced steototic livers has not been investigated. In the present study, we used chronic plus binge alcohol (Gao-binge) feeding followed by IR surgery to investigate IR liver injury with ethanol-associated steatosis. We found that the levels of key necroptotic proteins MLKL and RIP3 increased in alcohol-fed mouse livers. Moreover, we observed increased liver injury after IR in control diet-fed mice, which was further exacerbated by alcohol feeding based on serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels and TUNEL staining of necrotic cells. Hepatic neutrophil infiltration also increased in alcohol-fed mice after IR surgery. However, deletion of Mlkl did not protect against IR liver injury in alcohol-fed mice compared with matched wild-type mice. In conclusion, alcoholic steatosis promotes IR injury, which seems to be independent of MLKL-mediated necroptosis.

Keywords: Alcoholic liver disease, Cell death, Inflammation, Ischemia-reperfusion injury, Liver injury, Necroptosis.