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Exendin-4 alleviates steatosis in an in vitro cell model by lowering FABP1 and FOXA1 expression via the Wnt/-catenin signaling pathway

journal contribution
submitted on 2024-02-01, 10:49 and posted on 2024-02-05, 10:46 authored by Olfa Khalifa, Neyla S. AL-Akl, Khaoula Errafii, Abdelilah Arredouani

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the leading chronic liver disease worldwide. Agonists of the glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP-1R), currently approved to treat type 2 diabetes, hold promise to improve steatosis and even steatohepatitis. However, due to their pleiotropic effects, the mechanisms underlying their protective effect on NAFLD remain elusive. We aimed to investigate these mechanisms using an in vitro model of steatosis treated with the GLP-1R agonist Exendin-4 (Ex-4). We established steatotic HepG2 cells by incubating the cells with 400 µM oleic acid (OA) overnight. Further treatment with 200 nM Ex-4 for 3 h significantly reduced the OA-induced lipid accumulation (p < 0.05). Concomitantly, Ex-4 substantially reduced the expression levels of Fatty Acid-Binding Protein 1 (FABP1) and its primary activator, Forkhead box protein A1 (FOXA1). Interestingly, the silencing of β-catenin with siRNA abolished the effect of Ex-4 on these genes, suggesting dependency on the Wnt/β-catenin pathway. Additionally, after β-catenin silencing, OA treatment significantly increased the expression of nuclear transcription factors SREBP-1 and TCF4, whereas Ex-4 significantly decreased this upregulation. Our findings suggest that direct activation of GLP-1R by Ex-4 reduces OA-induced steatosis in HepG2 cells by reducing fatty acid uptake and transport via FABP1 downregulation.

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Published in: Scientific Reports
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Open Access funding provided by the Qatar National Library.



  • English


Springer Nature

Publication Year

  • 2022

License statement

This Item is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Institution affiliated with

  • Hamad Bin Khalifa University
  • Qatar Biomedical Research Institute - HBKU
  • Diabetes Research Center - QBRI
  • College of Health and Life Sciences - HBKU

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