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Expression of energy metabolism related genes in the gastric tissue of obese individuals with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Rohini Mehta12, Aybike Birerdinc12, Lei Wang12, Zahra Younoszai13, Amir Moazzez13, Hazem Elariny13, Zachary Goodman13, Vikas Chandhoke2, Ancha Baranova12* and Zobair M Younossi13*

Author Affiliations

1 Betty and Guy Beatty Obesity and Liver Program, Inova Health System, Falls Church, VA, USA

2 Center for the Study of Chronic Metabolic Diseases, School of Systems Biology, College of Science, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, USA

3 Center for Liver Diseases and Department of Medicine, Inova Fairfax Hospital, Falls Church, VA, USA

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BMC Gastroenterology 2014, 14:72  doi:10.1186/1471-230X-14-72

Published: 9 April 2014



Stomach is an integral part of the energy balance regulating circuit. Studies exploring the effects of cross-system changes in the energy homeostasis in stomach tissue are scarce. The proximity of the stomach to liver - the most common secondary target affected by obesity – suggests that these two organs are exposed to each other’s local secretion. Therefore, we aimed at expression profiling of energy metabolism associated genes in the gastric tissue of obese non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) patients.


A total of 24 patients with histologically-proven NAFLD were included. In the gastric tissue, gene expression profiling of 84 energy metabolism associated genes was carried out.


The accumulation of the fat in the liver parenchyma is accompanied by downregulation of genes encoding for carboxypeptidase E (CPE) and Interleukin 1B (IL1B) in the gastric mucosa of same patient. In patients with high grade hepatic steatosis, Interleukin 1 beta encoding gene with anorexigenic function, IL1B was downregulated. The levels expression of 21 genes, including ADRA2B, CNR1 and LEP were significantly altered in the gastric tissue of NAFLD patients with hepatic inflammation. There were also indications of an increase in the opioid signaling within gastric mucosa that may results in a shift to proinflammatory environment within this organ and contribute to systemic inflammation and the pathogenic processes in hepatic parenchyma.


We have shown differential expression of energy metabolism associated genes in the gastric tissue of obese NAFLD patients. Importantly, these gene expression profiles are associated with changes in the hepatic parenchyma as reflected in increased scores for hepatic steatosis, inflammation, fibrosis and NASH. This study suggests the complex interplay of multiple organs in the pathogenesis of obesity-related complications such as NAFLD and provides further evidence supporting an important role for gastric tissue in promoting obesity-related complications.