Wnt ligands regulate metabolic pathways, and dysregulation of Wnt signaling contributes to chronic inflammatory disease. A knowledge gap exists concerning the role of aberrant Wnt signaling in non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which exhibits metabolic syndrome and inflammation. Using a mouse model of methionine-choline-deficient diet (MCDD)-induced NASH, we investigated the Wnt signaling pathways in relation to hepatic glucose oxidation. Mice fed the MCD diet for 6 weeks developed prominent NASH marked by macrovesicular steatosis, inflammation and lipid peroxidation. qPCR analysis reveals differential hepatic expression of canonical and non-canonical Wnt ligands. While expression of Wnt3a was decreased in NASH vs chow diet control, expression of Wnt5a and Wnt11 were increased 3 fold and 15 fold, respectively. Consistent with activation of non-canonical Wnt signaling, expression of the alternative Wnt receptor ROR2 was increased 5 fold with no change in LRP6 expression. Activities of the metabolic enzymes glucokinase, phosphoglucoisomerase, glyceraldehyde- 3-phosphate dehydrogenase, pyruvate kinase, and pyruvate dehydrogenase were all elevated by MCDD. NASH-driven glucose oxidation was accompanied by a 6-fold increase in lactate dehydrogenase (LDH)-B with no change in LDH-A. In addition, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, the regulatory and NADPH-producing enzyme of the pentose phosphate pathway, was elevated in NASH. These data support a role of accelerated glucose oxidation in the development of NASH, which may be driven by non-canonical Wnt signaling.
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