Background and Aims: Bile salts can cause hepatocyte death by inducing the mitochondrial permeability transition (MPT). However, the slow progression of human cholestatic liver diseases suggests that hepatocytes adapt to resist the MPT. Bcl-x, a protein, and increased mitochondrial cardiolipin, a membrane lipid, elevate the threshold for the MPT. Our aims were to determine if liver mitochondria become resistant to the MPT during cholestasis and, if so, if the resistance is mediated by Bcl-x and/or increased cardiolipin. Methods: Hepatocytes and liver mitochondria were obtained from bile duct-ligated (BDL) rats and sham-operated rats (control). Results: After addition of glycochenodeoxycholate (GCDC), the magnitude of the MPT was reduced in mitochondria from BDL rats vs. controls. Although Bcl- x(L) was not increased, mitochondrial cardiolipin content was significantly greater in BDL rats vs. controls. Cell viability was also increased in hepatocytes from BDL rats vs. controls after treatment with GCDC. Feeding BDL rats a fatty acid-deficient diet prevented the increase in mitochondrial cardiolipin content; mitochondria and hepatocytes from these rats were susceptible to the MPT and hepatocellular death by GCDC. Conclusions: These data suggest that an increase in mitochondria cardiolipin content occurs during cholestasis as an adaptive phenomenon to resist cell death by the MPT.
ASJC Scopus subject areas