The influence of estrogen on hepatobiliary osteopontin (SPP1) expression in a female rodent model of alcoholic steatohepatitis.
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Our recent studies suggest that higher neutrophil infiltration in females correlates with increased hepatobiliary expression of osteopontin (OPN) in alcoholic steatohepatitis (ASH). The objective of this study was to understand the role of alcohol in altering estrogen levels in females by examining the effect of ethanol (EtOH) on the estrous cycle and then investigate the potential relationship between estradiol (E2) and hepatobiliary OPN expression in a female rat ASH model. Ovariectomized (OVX) and E2-implanted OVX rats in the ASH group were evaluated for OPN mRNA and protein expression. Low doses of E2 resulted in significant down-regulation of OPN protein and mRNA as compared to the OVX group. However, with increasing doses of E2, there was up-regulation of both OPN mRNA and protein. Osteopontin was localized primarily to the biliary epithelium. Liver injury assessed by serum ALT and histopathology revealed a pattern similar to OPN expression. In all groups, hepatic neutrophilic infiltration correlated positively with OPN expression. Based on these data, we conclude that in our ASH model, low doses of E2 appear to be hepatoprotective, whereas the protective effect appears to diminish with increasing doses of E2, although additional cause and effect studies are needed for confirmation.