Argininosuccinate synthase conditions the response to acute and chronic ethanol-induced liver injury in mice

Tung Ming Leung, Yongke Lu, Wei Yan, José A. Morón-Concepción, Stephen C. Ward, Xiaodong Ge, Laura Conde de la Rosa, Natalia Nieto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Argininosuccinate synthase (ASS) is the rate-limiting enzyme in both the urea and the L-citrulline/nitric oxide (NO·) cycles regulating protein catabolism, ammonia levels, and NO· generation. Because a proteomics analysis identified ASS and nitric oxide synthase-2 (NOS2) as coinduced in rat hepatocytes by chronic ethanol consumption, which also occurred in alcoholic liver disease (ALD) and in cirrhosis patients, we hypothesized that ASS could play a role in ethanol binge and chronic ethanol-induced liver damage. To investigate the contribution of ASS to the pathophysiology of ALD, wildtype (WT) and Ass +/- mice (Ass -/- are lethal due to hyperammonemia) were exposed to an ethanol binge or to chronic ethanol drinking. Compared with WT, Ass +/- mice given an ethanol binge exhibited decreased steatosis, lower NOS2 induction, and less 3-nitrotyrosine (3-NT) protein residues, indicating that reducing nitrosative stress by way of the L-citrulline/NO· pathway plays a significant role in preventing liver damage. However, chronic ethanol-treated Ass +/- mice displayed enhanced liver injury compared with WT mice. This was due to hyperammonemia, lower phosphorylated AMP-activated protein kinase alpha (pAMPKα) to total AMPKα ratio, decreased sirtuin-1 (Sirt-1) and peroxisomal proliferator-activated receptor coactivator-1α (Pgc1α) messenger RNAs (mRNAs), lower fatty acid β-oxidation due to down-regulation of carnitine palmitoyl transferase-II (CPT-II), decreased antioxidant defense, and elevated lipid peroxidation end-products in spite of comparable nitrosative stress but likely reduced NOS3. Conclusion: Partial Ass ablation protects only in acute ethanol-induced liver injury by decreasing nitrosative stress but not in a more chronic scenario where oxidative stress and impaired fatty acid β-oxidation are key events.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1596-1609
Number of pages14
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2012


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