Ablation of catalase promotes non-alcoholic fatty liver via oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction in diet-induced obese mice

  • Su-Kyung Shin
  • Hyun-Woo Cho
  • Seung-Eun Song
  • Jae-Hoon Bae
  • Seung-Soon Im
  • Inha Hwang
  • Hunjoo Ha
  • Dae-Kyu SongEmail author
Integrative physiology
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Integrative Physiology


Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) produced endogenously can cause mitochondrial dysfunction and metabolic complications in various cell types by inducing oxidative stress. In the liver, oxidative and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress affects the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Although a link between both stresses and fatty liver diseases has been suggested, few studies have investigated the involvement of catalase in fatty liver pathogenesis. We examined whether catalase is associated with NAFLD, using catalase knockout (CKO) mice and the catalase-deficient human hepatoma cell line HepG2. Hepatic morphology analysis revealed that the fat accumulation was more prominent in high-fat diet (HFD) CKO mice compared to that in age-matched wild-type (WT) mice, and lipid peroxidation and H2O2 release were significantly elevated in CKO mice. Transmission electron micrographs indicated that the liver mitochondria from CKO mice tended to be more severely damaged than those in WT mice. Likewise, mitochondrial DNA copy number and cellular ATP concentrations were significantly lower in CKO mice. In fatty acid-treated HepG2 cells, knockdown of catalase accelerated cellular lipid accumulation and depressed mitochondrial biogenesis, which was recovered by co-treatment with N-acetyl cysteine or melatonin. This effect of antioxidant was also true in HFD-fed CKO mice, suppressing fatty liver development and improving hepatic mitochondrial function. Expression of ER stress marker proteins and hepatic fat deposition also increased in normal-diet, aged CKO mice compared to WT mice. These findings suggest that H2O2 production may be an important event triggering NAFLD and that catalase may be an attractive therapeutic target for preventing NAFLD.


Catalase Oxidative stress Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease Mitochondrial function Hydrogen peroxide ER stress 


Author contributions

Shin SK performed most of experiments, analyzed data, and wrote the paper. Cho HW and Song SE performed some experiments. Bae JH and Im SS analyzed data. Ha H and Hwang I reviewed the draft and revised manuscript. Song DK designed study, analyzed data, and wrote the paper.


This study was supported by a grant from the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) Grant funded by the Korean Government (MSIP) (Nos. 2014R1A5A2010008, 2018R1A2B2004429, and 2018R1D1A1B07043068).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving animals were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institution or practice at which the studies were conducted (KM2016-08).

Supplementary material

424_2018_2250_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (236 kb)
Online Resource 1 (PDF 235 kb)
424_2018_2250_Fig8_ESM.png (25 kb)
Online Resource 2

Relative mRNA expression of catalase in livers from WT and CKO mice. n = 810, ###P < 0.001 vs. WT-ND. C57BL/6J wild-type, WT; Catalase knockout, CKO; Normal diet, ND; High-fat diet, HFD (PNG 25 kb)

424_2018_2250_MOESM2_ESM.tif (2.4 mb)
High resolution image (TIF 2492 kb)


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physiology & Obesity-mediated Disease Research CenterKeimyung University School of MedicineDaeguSouth Korea
  2. 2.Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of PharmacyEwha Women’s UniversitySeoulSouth Korea

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