Rapid development of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis in Psammomys obesus (Israeli sand rat)

Briana Spolding, Timothy Connor, Carrie Wittmer, Lelia L F Abreu, Antony Kaspi, Mark Ziemann, Gunveen Kaur, Adrian Cooper, Shona Morrison, Scott Lee, Andrew Sinclair, Yann Gibert, James L. Trevaskis, Jonathon D. Roth, Assam El-Osta, Richard Standish, Ken Walder

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15 Citations (Scopus)


Background and Aims: A major impediment to establishing new treatments for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis is the lack of suitable animal models that accurately mimic the biochemical and metabolic characteristics of the disease. The aim of this study was to explore a unique polygenic animal model of metabolic disease as a model of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis by determining the effects of 2% dietary cholesterol supplementation on metabolic and liver endpoints in Psammomys obesus (Israeli sand rat). Methods: P. obesus were provided ad libitum access to either a standard rodent diet (20% kcal/fat) or a standard rodent diet supplemented with 2% cholesterol (w/w) for 4 weeks. Histological sections of liver from animals on both diets were examined for key features of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. The expression levels of key genes involved in hepatic lipid metabolism were measured by real-time PCR. Results: P. obesus fed a cholesterol-supplemented diet exhibited profound hepatomegaly and steatosis, and higher plasma transaminase levels. Histological analysis identified extensive steatosis, inflammation, hepatocyte injury and fibrosis. Hepatic gene expression profiling revealed decreased expression of genes involved in delivery and uptake of lipids, and fatty acid and triglyceride synthesis, and increased expression of genes involved in very low density lipoprotein cholesterol synthesis, triglyceride and cholesterol export. Conclusions: P. obesus rapidly develop non-alcoholic steatohepatitis when fed a cholesterol-supplemented diet that appears to be histologically and mechanistically similar to patients. 

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere92656
Number of pages7
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes

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