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Quercetin prevents ethanol-induced iron overload by regulating hepcidin through the BMP6/SMAD4 signaling pathway

The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry
DOI: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2014.02.009
  • Alcoholic Liver Diseases (Ald)
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 6 (Bmp6)/ Smad4
  • Hepcidin
  • Iron Overload
  • Quercetin


Abstract Objective Emerging evidence has demonstrated that chronic ethanol exposure induces iron overload, enhancing ethanol-mediated liver damage. The purpose of this study was to explore the effects of the naturally-occurring compound quercetin on ethanol-induced iron overload and liver damage, focusing on the signaling pathway of the iron regulatory hormone hepcidin. Methods and Results Adult male C57BL/6J mice were pair-fed with isocaloric-Lieber De Carli diets containing ethanol (accounting for 30% of total calories) and/or carbonyl iron (0.2%) and treated with quecertin (100 mg/kg body weight) for 15 weeks. Mouse primary hepatocytes were incubated with ethanol (100 mM) and quercetin (100 μM) for 24 hours. Mice exposed to either ethanol or iron presented significant fatty infiltration and iron deposition in the liver; these symptoms were exacerbated in mice co-treated with ethanol and iron. Quercetin attenuated the abnormity induced by ethanol and/or iron. Ethanol suppressed BMP6 and intranuclear SMAD4 as well as decreased hepcidin expression. These effects were partially alleviated by quercetin supplementation in mice and hepatocytes. Importantly, ethanol caused suppression of SMAD4 binding to the HAMP promoter and of hepcidin mRNA expression. These effects were exacerbated by anti-BMP6 antibody and partially alleviated by quercetin or human recombinant BMP6 in cultured hepatocytes. In contrast, co-treatment with iron and ethanol, especially exposure of iron alone, activated BMP6/SMAD4 pathway and up-regulated hepcidin expression, which was also normalized by quercetin in vivo. Conclusions Quercetin prevented ethanol-induced hepatic iron overload different from what carbonyl iron diet-elicited in the mechanism, by regulating hepcidin expression via the BMP6/SMAD4 signaling pathway.

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