Free radical biology for medicine: Learning from nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

Gaetano Serviddio, Francesco Bellanti, Gianluigi Vendemiale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Reactive oxygen species, when released under controlled conditions and limited amounts, contribute to cellular proliferation, senescence, and survival by acting as signaling intermediates. In past decades there has been an epidemic diffusion of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) that represents the result of the impairment of lipid metabolism, redox imbalance, and insulin resistance in the liver. To date, most studies and reviews have been focused on the molecular mechanisms by which fatty liver progresses to steatohepatitis, but the processes leading toward the development of hepatic steatosis in NAFLD are not fully understood yet. Several nuclear receptors, such as peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) α/γ/δ, PPARγ coactivators 1α and 1β, sterol-regulatory element-binding proteins, AMP-activated protein kinase, liver-X-receptors, and farnesoid-X-receptor, play key roles in the regulation of lipid homeostasis during the pathogenesis of NAFLD. These nuclear receptors may act as redox sensors and may modulate various metabolic pathways in response to specific molecules that act as ligands. It is conceivable that a redox-dependent modulation of lipid metabolism, nuclear receptor-mediated, could cause the development of hepatic steatosis and insulin resistance. Thus, this network may represent a potential therapeutic target for the treatment and prevention of hepatic steatosis and its progression to steatohepatitis. This review summarizes the redox-dependent factors that contribute to metabolism alterations in fatty liver with a focus on the redox control of nuclear receptors in normal liver as well as in NAFLD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)952-968
Number of pages17
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Free radicals
  • Hepatic steatosis
  • Nuclear receptors
  • Redox signaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Medicine(all)


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