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Chitotriosidase gene expression in Kupffer cells from patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  1. L Malaguarnera1,
  2. M Di Rosa1,
  3. A M Zambito3,
  4. N dell’Ombra1,
  5. F Nicoletti1,
  6. M Malaguarnera2
  1. 1Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Catania, Catania, Italy
  2. 2Department of Senescence, Urological and Neurological Sciences, University of Catania
  3. 3Department of Pathology and Experimental Clinical Medicine, University of Udine, Udine, Italy
  1. Correspondence to:
    Professor Lucia Malaguarnera
    Via E De Amicis 24, 95039 Trecastagni, Catania, Italy; lucmal{at}


Background and aims: Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a clinicopathological condition characterised by a necroinflammatory disorder with fatty infiltration of the hepatocytes. The molecular mechanisms involved in the anomalous behaviour of liver cells have only partially been determined. Human chitotriosidase (Chit) is a chitinolytic enzyme mainly produced by activated macrophages. The aim of this study was to investigate the expression of the chitinase-like gene in Kupffer cells, to determine how chitotriosidase may be implicated in the progression from uncomplicated steatosis to steatohepatitis with progressive fibrosis.

Methods: 75 subjects were studied: 40 with NASH, 20 with simple steatosis, and 15 normal controls. Kupffer cells obtained from liver biopsies were used to detect CHIT expression, superoxide anion (O2), lipid peroxidation, and tumour necrosis factor α (TNFα) and ferritin levels.

Results: CHIT expression differed markedly in livers from normal controls and in those from patients with simple steatosis or non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. A significant correlation between mRNA CHIT and O2, lipid peroxidation, TNFα, and ferritin levels was observed in both NASH and simple steatosis.

Conclusions: Human Kupffer cells in NASH patients overproduce chitotriosidase. At the highest levels of production, this enzyme may play a role in increasing the risk for a poor outcome in steatohepatitis.

  • Ac-LDL, acetyl lipoprotein
  • BMI, body mass index
  • Chit, chitotriosidase
  • GAPDH, glyceraldeyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase
  • HSC, human hepatic stellate cell
  • NASH, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis
  • Ox-LDL, oxidised low density lipoproteins
  • O2, superoxide anion
  • ROS, reactive oxygen species
  • TNFα, tumour necrosis factor α
  • chitotriosidase
  • non-alcoholic steatohepatitis
  • simple steatosis
  • lipid peroxidation

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  • Conflict of interest: None declared.