Rho-kinase as a therapeutic target for nonalcoholic fatty liver diseases

Inês Sousa-Lima, Hyun Jeong Kim, John Jones, Young Bum Kim

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Abstract

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a major public health problem and the most common form of chronic liver disease, affecting 25% of the global population. Although NAFLD is closely linked with obesity, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes mellitus, knowledge on its pathogenesis remains incomplete. Emerging data have underscored the importance of Rho-kinase (Rho-associated coiled-coil-containing kinase [ROCK]) action in the maintenance of normal hepatic lipid homeostasis. In particular, pharmacological blockade of ROCK in hepatocytes or hepatic stellate cells prevents the progression of liver diseases such as NAFLD and fibrosis. Moreover, mice lacking hepatic ROCK1 are protected against obesity-induced fatty liver diseases by suppressing hepatic de novo lipogenesis. Here we review the roles of ROCK as an indispensable regulator of obesity-induced fatty liver disease and highlight the key cellular pathway governing hepatic lipid accumulation, with focus on de novo lipogenesis and its impact on therapeutic potential. Consequently, a comprehensive understanding of the metabolic milieu linking to liver dysfunction triggered by ROCK activation may help identify new targets for treating fatty liver diseases such as NAFLD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)655-674
Number of pages20
JournalDiabetes and Metabolism Journal
Volume45
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021

Keywords

  • AMP-activated protein kinase
  • Diet
  • High-fat
  • Lipogenesis
  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Rho-kinase

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