Prolonged effects of DPP-4 inhibitors on steato-hepatitic changes in Sprague-Dawley rats fed a high-cholesterol diet
OBJECTIVE: Sitagliptin and other dipeptidyl peptidase (DPP)-4 inhibitors/gliptins are antidiabetic drugs known to improve lipid profile, and confer anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic effects, which are independent of their hypoglycemic effects. However, in our previous short-term (35 days) studies, we showed that sitagliptin accentuates the hepato-inflammatory effects of high dietary cholesterol (Cho) in male Sprague-Dawley rats. Since most type 2 diabetics also present with lipid abnormalities and use DPP-4 inhibitors for glucose management, the present study was conducted to assess the impact of sitagliptin during long-term (98 days) feeding of a high Cho diet. An additional component of the present investigation was the inclusion of other gliptins to determine if hepatic steatosis, necro-inflammation, and fibrosis were specific to sitagliptin or are class effects. METHODS: Adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were fed control or high Cho (2.0%) diets, and gavaged daily (from day 30 through 98) with vehicle or DPP-4 inhibitors (sitagliptin or alogliptin or saxagliptin). On day 99 after a 4 h fast, rats were euthanized. Blood and liver samples were collected to measure lipids and cytokines, and for histopathological evaluation, determination of hepatic lesions (steatosis, necrosis, inflammation, and fibrosis) using specific staining and immunohistochemical methods. RESULTS: Compared to controls, the high Cho diet produced a robust increase in NASH like phenotype that included increased expression of hepatic (Tnfa, Il1b, and Mcp1) and circulatory (TNFα and IL-1β) markers of inflammation, steatosis, necrosis, fibrosis, and mononuclear cell infiltration. These mononuclear cells were identified as macrophages and T cells, and their recruitment in the liver was facilitated by marked increases in endothelium-expressed cell adhesion molecules. Importantly, treatment with DPP-4 inhibitors (3 tested) neither alleviated the pathologic responses induced by high Cho diet nor improved lipid profile. CONCLUSIONS: The potential lipid lowering effects of DPP-4 inhibitors were diminished by high Cho (a significant risk factor for inducing liver damage). The robust inflammatory responses induced by high Cho feeding in long-term experiment were not exacerbated by DPP-4 inhibitors and a consistent hepatic inflammatory environment persisted, implying a prospective physiological adaptation.