Dual therapy with zinc acetate and rifaximin prevents from ethanol-induced liver fibrosis by maintaining intestinal barrier integrity


Background: Hepatic overload of gut-derived lipopolysaccharide dictates the progression of alcoholic liver disease (ALD) by inducing oxidative stress and activating Kupffer cells and hepatic stellate cells through toll-like receptor 4 signaling. Therefore, targeting the maintenance of intestinal barrier integrity has attracted attention for the treatment of ALD. Zinc acetate and rifaximin, which is a nonabsorbable antibiotic, had been clinically used for patients with cirrhosis, particularly those with hepatic encephalopathy, and had been known to improve intestinal barrier dysfunction. However, only few studies focused on their efficacies in preventing the ALD-related fibrosis development.

Aim: To investigate the effects of a combined zinc acetate with rifaximin on liver fibrosis in a mouse ALD model.

Methods: To induce ALD-related liver fibrosis, female C57BL/6J mice were fed a 2.5% (v/v) ethanol-containing Lieber-DeCarli liquid diet and received intraperitoneal carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) injection twice weekly (1 mL/kg) for 8 wk. Zinc acetate (100 mg/L) and/or rifaximin (100 mg/L) were orally administered during experimental period. Hepatic steatosis, inflammation and fibrosis as well as intestinal barrier function were evaluated by histological and molecular analyses. Moreover, the direct effects of both agents on Caco-2 barrier function were assessed by in vitro assays.

Results: In the ethanol plus CCl4-treated mice, combination of zinc acetate and rifaximin attenuated oxidative lipid peroxidation with downregulation of Nox2 and Nox4. This combination significantly inhibited the Kupffer cells expansion and the proinflammatory response with blunted hepatic exposure of lipopolysaccharide and the toll-like receptor 4/nuclear factor kB pathway. Consequently, liver fibrosis and hepatic stellate cells activation were efficiently suppressed with downregulation of Mmp-2, -9, -13, and Timp1. Both agents improved the atrophic changes and permeability in the ileum, with restoration of tight junction proteins (TJPs) by decreasing the expressions of tumor necrosis factor α and myosin light chain kinase. In the in vitro assay, both agents directly reinforced ethanol or lipopolysaccharide-stimulated paracellular permeability and upregulated TJPs in Caco-2 cells.

Conclusion: Dual therapy with zinc acetate and rifaximin may serve as a strategy to prevent ALD-related fibrosis by maintaining intestinal barrier integrity.

PMID: 35068872 PMCID: PMC8717023 DOI: 10.3748/wjg.v27.i48.8323

Source: Yuki Fujimoto 1, Kosuke Kaji 2, Norihisa Nishimura 1, Masahide Enomoto 1, Koji Murata 1, Soichi Takeda 1, Hiroaki Takaya 1, Hideto Kawaratani 1, Kei Moriya 1, Tadashi Namisaki 1, Takemi Akahane 1, Hitoshi Yoshiji 1

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