Background & Aims: Vacuole membrane protein 1 (VMP1) is an endoplasmic reticulum (ER) transmembrane protein that regulates the formation of autophagosomes and lipid droplets. Recent evidence suggests that VMP1 plays a critical role in lipoprotein secretion in zebra fish and cultured cells. However, the pathophysiological roles and mechanisms by which VMP1 regulates lipoprotein secretion and lipid accumulation in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) are unknown. Methods: Liver-specific and hepatocyte-specific Vmp1 knockout mice as well as Vmp1 knock-in mice were generated by crossing Vmp1flox or Vmp1KI mice with albumin-Cre mice or by injecting AAV8-TBG-cre, respectively. Lipid and energy metabolism in these mice were characterized by metabolomic and transcriptome analyses. Mice with hepatic overexpression of VMP1 who were fed a NASH diet were also characterized. Results: Hepatocyte-specific deletion of Vmp1 severely impaired VLDL secretion resulting in massive hepatic steatosis, hepatocyte death, inflammation and fibrosis, which are hallmarks of NASH. Mechanistically, loss of Vmp1 led to decreased hepatic levels of phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylethanolamine as well as to changes in phospholipid composition. Deletion of Vmp1 in mouse liver also led to the accumulation of neutral lipids in the ER bilayer and impaired mitochondrial beta-oxidation. Overexpression of VMP1 ameliorated steatosis in diet-induced NASH by improving VLDL secretion. Importantly, we also showed that decreased liver VMP1 is associated with NAFLD/NASH in humans. Conclusions: Our results provide novel insights on the role of VMP1 in regulating hepatic phospholipid synthesis and lipoprotein secretion in the pathogenesis of NAFLD/NASH. Lay summary: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and its more severe form, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, are associated with a build-up of fat in the liver (steatosis). However, the exact mechanisms that underly steatosis in patients are not completely understood. Herein, the authors identified that the lack of a protein called VMP1 impairs the secretion and metabolism of fats in the liver and could therefore contribute to the development and progression of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
- endoplasmic reticulum
- liver injury