Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is one of the most important causes of chronic liver disease in children and adults. Recently, therapeutic supplementation with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) showed an anti-inflammatory and insulin-sensitizing effect in children with NAFLD. The anti-inflammatory effects of DHA depend on its ability to alter phospholipid composition of the cell membrane, to disrupt lipid rafts and to hamper the transcriptional activity of nuclear factor-κB that controls the expression of proinflammatory cytokines. These effects of DHA are due to the interaction with the G-protein-coupled receptor 120 (GRP120), a lipid-sensing receptor highly expressed in activated macrophages. In fact, DHA may activate GPR120 expression in macrophages causing anti-inflammatory effects, and insulin-sensitizing and antidiabetic effects in vivo. Recently, it has been shown that GPR120 is also expressed by the Kupffer cells of the liver. A diet low in n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, as well as the presence of genetic factors, may induce a reduction in the GRP120 signal and the activation of Kupffer cells and inflammation during NAFLD. Therefore, it is conceivable that DHA/GRP120 may play a key role in slowing the progression of liver damage in patients with NAFLD.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems