The Decrease of Serum Levels of Human Neutrophil Alpha-Defensins Parallels with the Surgery-Induced Amelioration of NASH in Obesity
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Innate immune system participates actively into inflammatory processes, with immune cells and liver secreting a number of immune peptides. Among them, both soluble CD14 receptor (sCD14) and human neutrophil alpha-defensins (HNDs) may represent serum markers of necro-inflammation in obese patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
To verify this hypothesis, we investigated changes in circulating levels of sCD14 and HNDs in 11 severely obese young women following surgery-induced weight loss (bilio-pancreatic diversion). Patients were evaluated before surgery and 2 years later, with NAS score evaluated on liver biopsies and whole body glucose uptake (M value) by euglycemic hyperinsulinemic clamp.
NAS score improved in nine patients [median NAS score in the whole sample, 6 (5–6) vs. 3 (3–4), p = 0.016]. Serum concentrations of HNDs decreased significantly in all (p = 0.016), whilst sCD14 increased only in the nine women who showed the amelioration of the NAS score [2.4 (1.7–2.6) vs. 2.6 (2.3–3.3) μg/ml, p = 0.001]. NAS score and HNDs correlated significantly both before (ro = 0.671, p = 0.02) and after weight loss (ro = 0.683, p = 0.029), NAS score and sCD14 only before surgery (ro = 0.605, p = 0.04). The M value increased in all patients [2.67 (1.99–3.01) vs. 6.89 (6.35–7.32) mg kgFFM−1 min−1; p = 0.01], but independently of NAS score changes.
Changes in levels of HNDs and sCD14 accompany those in hepatic necro-inflammation due to surgical-induced weight loss. Further studies are needed to verify any causative role of these peptides in non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.