Document Type


Journal Title

BMC Cancer

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BACKGROUND: Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease affects about 24% of the world's population and may progress to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). While more common in those that are obese, NASH-HCC can develop in lean individuals. The mechanisms by which HCC develops and the role of epigenetic changes in the context of obesity and normal weight are not well understood.

METHODS: In this study, we used previously generated mouse models of lean and obese HCC using a choline deficient/high trans-fat/fructose/cholesterol diet and a choline supplemented/high trans-fat/fructose/cholesterol diet, respectively, to evaluate methylation differences in HCC progression in lean versus obese mice. Differentially methylated regions were determined using reduced representation bisulfite sequencing.

RESULTS: A larger number of differentially methylated regions (DMRs) were seen in NASH-HCC progression in the obese mice compared to the non-obese mice. No overlap existed in the DMRs with the largest methylation differences between the two models. In lean NASH-HCC, methylation differences were seen in genes involved with cancer progression and prognosis (including HCC), such as CHCHD2, FSCN1, and ZDHHC12, and lipid metabolism, including PNPLA6 and LDLRAP1. In obese NASH- HCC, methylation differences were seen in genes known to be associated with HCC, including RNF217, GJA8, PTPRE, PSAPL1, and LRRC8D. Genes involved in Wnt-signaling pathways were enriched in hypomethylated DMRs in the obese NASH-HCC.

CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that differential methylation may play a role in hepatocarcinogenesis in lean versus obese NASH. Hypomethylation of Wnt signaling pathway-related genes in obese mice may drive progression of HCC, while progression of HCC in lean mice may be driven through other signaling pathways, including lipid metabolism.

MeSH Headings

Animals, Mice, Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, Carcinoma, Hepatocellular, Liver Neoplasms, Obesity, Fructose, Cholesterol, Choline



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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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