Publications

15 Publications visible to you, out of a total of 15

Abstract (Expand)

During pregnancy, the body's hyperestrogenic state alters hepatic metabolism and synthesis. While biochemical changes related to liver function during normal pregnancy are well understood, pregnancy-associated alterations in biophysical properties of the liver remain elusive. In this study, we investigated 26 ex vivo fresh liver specimens harvested from pregnant and non-pregnant rats by diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) and magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) in a 0.5-Tesla compact magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner. Water diffusivity and viscoelastic parameters were compared with histological data and blood markers. We found livers from pregnant rats to have (i) significantly enlarged hepatocytes (26 +/- 15%, p < 0.001), (ii) increased liver stiffness (12 +/- 15%, p = 0.012), (iii) decreased viscosity (-23 +/- 14%, p < 0.001), and (iv) increased water diffusivity (12 +/- 11%, p < 0.001). In conclusion, increased stiffness and reduced viscosity of the liver during pregnancy are mainly attributable to hepatocyte enlargement. Hypertrophy of liver cells imposes fewer restrictions on intracellular water mobility, resulting in a higher hepatic water diffusion coefficient. Collectively, MRE and DWI have the potential to inform on structural liver changes associated with pregnancy in a clinical context.

Authors: K. Garczynska, H. Tzschatzsch, A. A. Kuhl, A. S. Morr, L. Lilaj, A. Hackel, E. Schellenberger, N. Berndt, H. G. Holzhutter, J. Braun, I. Sack, J. Guo

Date Published: 17th Dec 2020

Publication Type: Journal

Abstract (Expand)

Metabolic reprogramming is a characteristic feature of cancer cells, but there is no unique metabolic program for all tumors. Genetic and gene expression studies have revealed heterogeneous inter- and intratumor patterns of metabolic enzymes and membrane transporters. The functional implications of this heterogeneity remain often elusive. Here, we applied a systems biology approach to gain a comprehensive and quantitative picture of metabolic changes in individual hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We used protein intensity profiles determined by mass spectrometry in samples of 10 human HCCs and the adjacent noncancerous tissue to calibrate Hepatokin1, a complex mathematical model of liver metabolism. We computed the 24-h profile of 18 metabolic functions related to carbohydrate, lipid, and nitrogen metabolism. There was a general tendency among the tumors toward downregulated glucose uptake and glucose release albeit with large intertumor variability. This finding calls into question that the Warburg effect dictates the metabolic phenotype of HCC. All tumors comprised elevated beta-oxidation rates. Urea synthesis was found to be consistently downregulated but without compromising the tumor's capacity for ammonia detoxification owing to increased glutamine synthesis. The largest intertumor heterogeneity was found for the uptake and release of lactate and the size of the cellular glycogen content. In line with the observed metabolic heterogeneity, the individual HCCs differed largely in their vulnerability against pharmacological treatment with metformin. Taken together, our approach provided a comprehensive and quantitative characterization of HCC metabolism that may pave the way for a computational a priori assessment of pharmacological therapies targeting metabolic processes of HCC.

Authors: N. Berndt, J. Eckstein, N. Heucke, T. Wuensch, R. Gajowski, M. Stockmann, D. Meierhofer, H. G. Holzhutter

Date Published: 8th Oct 2020

Publication Type: Journal

Abstract (Expand)

BACKGROUND & AIMS: Zone-dependent differences in the expression of metabolic enzymes along the porto-central axis of the acinus are a long-known feature of liver metabolism. A prominent example is the preferential localization of the enzyme glutamine synthetase in pericentral hepatocytes, where it converts potentially toxic ammonia to the valuable amino acid glutamine. However, with the exception of a few key regulatory enzymes, a comprehensive and quantitative assessment of zonal differences in the abundance of metabolic enzymes and much more importantly, an estimation of the associated functional differences between portal and central hepatocytes is missing thus far. APPROACH & RESULTS: We addressed this problem by establishing a new method for the separation of periportal and pericentral hepatocytes that yields sufficiently pure fractions of both cell populations. Quantitative shotgun proteomics identified hundreds of differentially expressed enzymes in the two cell populations. We used zone-specific proteomics data for scaling of the maximal activities to generate portal and central instantiations of a comprehensive kinetic model of central hepatic metabolism (Hepatokin1). CONCLUSION: The model simulations revealed significant portal-to-central differences in almost all metabolic pathways involving carbohydrates, fatty acids, amino acids and detoxification.

Authors: N. Berndt, E. Kolbe, R. Gajowski, J. Eckstein, F. Ott, D. Meierhofer, H. G. Holzhutter, M. Matz-Soja

Date Published: 14th Apr 2020

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

Protein modification with ISG15 (ISGylation) represents a major type I IFN-induced antimicrobial system. Common mechanisms of action and species-specific aspects of ISGylation, however, are still ill defined and controversial. We used a multiphasic coxsackievirus B3 (CV) infection model with a first wave resulting in hepatic injury of the liver, followed by a second wave culminating in cardiac damage. This study shows that ISGylation sets nonhematopoietic cells into a resistant state, being indispensable for CV control, which is accomplished by synergistic activity of ISG15 on antiviral IFIT1/3 proteins. Concurrent with altered energy demands, ISG15 also adapts liver metabolism during infection. Shotgun proteomics, in combination with metabolic network modeling, revealed that ISG15 increases the oxidative capacity and promotes gluconeogenesis in liver cells. Cells lacking the activity of the ISG15-specific protease USP18 exhibit increased resistance to clinically relevant CV strains, therefore suggesting that stabilizing ISGylation by inhibiting USP18 could be exploited for CV-associated human pathologies.

Authors: M. Kespohl, C. Bredow, K. Klingel, M. Voss, A. Paeschke, M. Zickler, W. Poller, Z. Kaya, J. Eckstein, H. Fechner, J. Spranger, M. Fahling, E. K. Wirth, L. Radoshevich, F. Thery, F. Impens, N. Berndt, K. P. Knobeloch, A. Beling

Date Published: 21st Mar 2020

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

The principle of dynamic liver function breath tests is founded on the administration of a (13)C-labeled drug and subsequent monitoring of (13)CO2 in the breath, quantified as time series delta over natural baseline (13)CO2 (DOB) liberated from the drug during hepatic CYP-dependent detoxification. One confounding factor limiting the diagnostic value of such tests is that only a fraction of the liberated (13)CO2 is immediately exhaled, while another fraction is taken up by body compartments from which it returns with delay to the plasma. The aims of this study were to establish a novel variant of the methacetin-based breath test LiMAx that allows to estimate and to eliminate the confounding effect of systemic (13)CO2 distribution on the DOB curve and thus enables a more reliable assessment of the hepatic detoxification capacity compared with the conventional LiMAx test. We designed a new test variant (named "2DOB") consisting of two consecutive phases. Phase 1 is initiated by the intravenous administration of (13)C-bicarbonate. Phase 2 starts about 30 min later with the intravenous administration of the (13)C-labelled test drug. Using compartment modelling, the resulting 2-phasic DOB curve yields the rate constants for the irreversible elimination and the reversible exchange of plasma (13)CO2 with body compartments (phase 1) and for the detoxification and exchange of the drug with body compartments (phase 2). We carried out the 2DOB test with the test drug (13)C-methacetin in 16 subjects with chronic liver pathologies and 22 normal subjects, who also underwent the conventional LiMAx test. Individual differences in the systemic CO2 kinetics can lead to deviations up to a factor of 2 in the maximum of DOB curves (coefficient of variation CV approximately 0.2) which, in particular, may hamper the discrimination between subjects with normal or mildly impaired detoxification capacities. The novel test revealed that a significant portion of the drug is not immediately metabolized, but transiently taken up into a storage compartment. Intriguingly, not only the hepatic detoxification rate but also the storage capacity of the drug, turned out to be indicative for a normal liver function. We thus used both parameters to define a scoring function which yielded an excellent disease classification (AUC = 0.95) and a high correlation with the MELD score (RSpearman = 0.92). The novel test variant 2DOB promises a significant improvement in the assessment of impaired hepatic detoxification capacity. The suitability of the test for the reliable characterization of the natural history of chronic liver diseases (fatty liver-fibrosis-cirrhosis) has to be assessed in further studies.

Authors: H. G. Holzhutter, T. Wuensch, R. Gajowski, N. Berndt, S. Bulik, D. Meierhofer, M. Stockmann

Date Published: 6th Feb 2020

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract

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Authors: Nikolaus Berndt, Antje Egners, Guido Mastrobuoni, Olga Vvedenskaya, Athanassios Fragoulis, Aurélien Dugourd, Sascha Bulik, Matthias Pietzke, Chris Bielow, Rob van Gassel, Steven W. Olde Damink, Merve Erdem, Julio Saez-Rodriguez, Hermann-Georg Holzhütter, Stefan Kempa, Thorsten Cramer

Date Published: 10th Dec 2019

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract

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Authors: Nikolaus Berndt, Andreas Patzak, Hermann‐Georg Holzhütter

Date Published: 9th Aug 2019

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

Human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common type of primary liver cancer in adults and the most common cause of death in people with cirrhosis. While previous metabolic studies of HCC have mainly focused on the glucose metabolism (Warburg effect), less attention has been paid to tumor-specific features of the lipid metabolism. Here, we applied a computational approach to analyze major pathways of fatty acid utilization in individual HCC. To this end, we used protein intensity profiles of eleven human HCCs to parameterize tumor-specific kinetic models of cellular lipid metabolism including formation, enlargement, and degradation of lipid droplets (LDs). Our analysis reveals significant inter-tumor differences in the lipid metabolism. The majority of HCCs show a reduced uptake of fatty acids and decreased rate of beta-oxidation, however, some HCCs display a completely different metabolic phenotype characterized by high rates of beta-oxidation. Despite reduced fatty acid uptake in the majority of HCCs, the content of triacylglycerol is significantly enlarged compared to the tumor-adjacent tissue. This is due to tumor-specific expression profiles of regulatory proteins decorating the surface of LDs and controlling their turnover. Our simulations suggest that HCCs characterized by a very high content of triglycerides comprise regulatory peculiarities that render them susceptible to selective drug targeting without affecting healthy tissue.

Authors: N. Berndt, J. Eckstein, N. Heucke, R. Gajowski, M. Stockmann, D. Meierhofer, H. G. Holzhutter

Date Published: 27th May 2019

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

Propofol is the most frequently used intravenous anesthetic for induction and maintenance of anesthesia. Propofol acts first and formost as a GABAA-agonist, but effects on other neuronal receptors and voltage-gated ion channels have been described. Besides its direct effect on neurotransmission, propofol-dependent impairment of mitochondrial function in neurons has been suggested to be responsible for neurotoxicity and postoperative brain dysfunction. To clarify the potential neurotoxic effect in more detail, we investigated the effects of propofol on neuronal energy metabolism of hippocampal slices of the stratum pyramidale of area CA3 at different activity states. We combined oxygen-measurements, electrophysiology and flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD)-imaging with computational modeling to uncover molecular targets in mitochondrial energy metabolism that are directly inhibited by propofol. We found that high concentrations of propofol (100 microM) significantly decrease population spikes, paired pulse ratio, the cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen consumption (CMRO2), frequency and power of gamma oscillations and increase FAD-oxidation. Model-based simulation of mitochondrial FAD redox state at inhibition of different respiratory chain (RC) complexes and the pyruvate-dehydrogenase show that the alterations in FAD-autofluorescence during propofol administration can be explained with a strong direct inhibition of the complex II (cxII) of the RC. While this inhibition may not affect ATP availability under normal conditions, it may have an impact at high energy demand. Our data support the notion that propofol may lead to neurotoxicity and neuronal dysfunction by directly affecting the energy metabolism in neurons.

Authors: N. Berndt, J. Rosner, R. U. Haq, O. Kann, R. Kovacs, H. G. Holzhutter, C. Spies, A. Liotta

Date Published: 26th Aug 2018

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

The epidemic increase of non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases (NAFLD) requires a deeper understanding of the regulatory circuits controlling the response of liver metabolism to nutritional challenges, medical drugs, and genetic enzyme variants. As in vivo studies of human liver metabolism are encumbered with serious ethical and technical issues, we developed a comprehensive biochemistry-based kinetic model of the central liver metabolism including the regulation of enzyme activities by their reactants, allosteric effectors, and hormone-dependent phosphorylation. The utility of the model for basic research and applications in medicine and pharmacology is illustrated by simulating diurnal variations of the metabolic state of the liver at various perturbations caused by nutritional challenges (alcohol), drugs (valproate), and inherited enzyme disorders (galactosemia). Using proteomics data to scale maximal enzyme activities, the model is used to highlight differences in the metabolic functions of normal hepatocytes and malignant liver cells (adenoma and hepatocellular carcinoma).

Authors: N. Berndt, S. Bulik, I. Wallach, T. Wunsch, M. Konig, M. Stockmann, D. Meierhofer, H. G. Holzhutter

Date Published: 21st Jun 2018

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

Alternative models explaining the biliary lipid secretion at the canalicular membrane of hepatocytes exist: successive lipid extraction by preformed bile salt micelles, or budding of membrane fragments with formation of mixed micelles. To test the feasibility of the latter mechanism, we developed a mathematical model that describes the formation of lipid microdomains in the canalicular membrane. Bile salt monomers intercalate into the external hemileaflet of the canalicular membrane, to form a rim to liquid disordered domain patches that then pinch off to form nanometer-scale mixed micelles. Model simulations perfectly recapitulate the measured dependence of bile salt-dependent biliary lipid extraction rates upon modulation of the membrane cholesterol (lack or overexpression of the cholesterol transporter Abcg5-Abcg8) and phosphatidylcholine (lack of Mdr2, also known as Abcb4) content. The model reveals a strong dependence of the biliary secretion rate on the protein density of the membrane. Taken together, the proposed model is consistent with crucial experimental findings in the field and provides a consistent explanation of the central molecular processes involved in bile formation.

Authors: J. Eckstein, H. G. Holzhutter, N. Berndt

Date Published: 1st Mar 2018

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

The capacity of the liver to convert the metabolic input received from the incoming portal and arterial blood into the metabolic output of the outgoing venous blood has three major determinants: The intra-hepatic blood flow, the transport of metabolites between blood vessels (sinusoids) and hepatocytes and the metabolic capacity of hepatocytes. These determinants are not constant across the organ: Even in the normal organ, but much more pronounced in the fibrotic and cirrhotic liver, regional variability of the capillary blood pressure, tissue architecture and the expression level of metabolic enzymes (zonation) have been reported. Understanding how this variability may affect the regional metabolic capacity of the liver is important for the interpretation of functional liver tests and planning of pharmacological and surgical interventions. Here we present a mathematical model of the sinusoidal tissue unit (STU) that is composed of a single sinusoid surrounded by the space of Disse and a monolayer of hepatocytes. The total metabolic output of the liver (arterio-venous glucose difference) is obtained by integration across the metabolic output of a representative number of STUs. Application of the model to the hepatic glucose metabolism provided the following insights: (i) At portal glucose concentrations between 6-8 mM, an intra-sinusoidal glucose cycle may occur which is constituted by glucose producing periportal hepatocytes and glucose consuming pericentral hepatocytes, (ii) Regional variability of hepatic blood flow is higher than the corresponding regional variability of the metabolic output, (iii) a spatially resolved metabolic functiogram of the liver is constructed. Variations of tissue parameters are equally important as variations of enzyme activities for the control of the arterio-venous glucose difference.

Authors: N. Berndt, M. S. Horger, S. Bulik, H. G. Holzhutter

Date Published: 16th Feb 2018

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

The liver responds to elevated plasma concentrations of free fatty acids (FFAs) with an enhanced uptake of FFAs and their esterification to triacylglycerol (TAG). On the long term, this may result in massive hepatic TAG accumulation called steatosis hepatitis. In hepatocytes, the poor water-soluble TAG is packed in specialized organelles: Lipid droplets (LDs) serving as transient cellular deposit and lipoproteins (LPs) transporting TAG and cholesterol esters to extra-hepatic tissues. The dynamics of these organelles is controlled by a variety of regulatory surface proteins (RSPs). Assembly and export of VLDLs are mainly regulated by the microsomal transfer protein (MTP) and apoprotein B100. Formation and lipolysis of LDs are regulated by several RSPs. The best studied regulators belong to the PAT (Perilipin/Adipophilin/TIP47) and CIDE families. Knockdown or overexpression of SRPs may significantly affect the total number and size distribution of LDs. Intriguingly, a large cell-to-cell heterogeneity with respect to the number and size of LDs has been found in various cell types including hepatocytes. These findings suggest that the extent of cellular lipid accumulation is determined not only by the imbalance between lipid supply and utilization but also by variations in the expression of RSPs and metabolic enzymes. To better understand the relative regulatory impact of individual processes involved in the cellular TAG turnover, we developed a comprehensive kinetic model encompassing the pathways of the fatty acid and triglyceride metabolism and the main molecular processes governing the dynamics of LDs. The model was parametrized such that a large number of experimental in vitro and in vivo findings are correctly recapitulated. A control analysis of the model revealed that variations in the activity of FFA uptake, diacylglycerol acyltransferase (DGAT) 2, and adipose triglyceride lipase (ATGL) have the strongest influence on the cellular TAG level. We used the model to simulate LD size distributions in human hepatoma cells and hepatocytes exposed to a challenge with FFAs. A random fold change by a factor of about two in the activity of RSPs was sufficient to reproduce the large diversity of droplet size distributions observed in individual cells. Under the premise that the same extent of variability of RSPs holds for the intact organ, our model predicts variations in the TAG content of individual hepatocytes by a factor of about 3-6 depending on the nutritional regime. Taken together, our modeling approach integrates numerous experimental findings on individual processes in the cellular TAG metabolism and LD dynamics metabolism to a consistent state-of-the-art dynamic network model that can be used to study how changes in the external conditions or systemic parameters will affect the TAG content of hepatocytes.

Authors: C. Wallstab, D. Eleftheriadou, T. Schulz, G. Damm, D. Seehofer, J. Borlak, H. G. Holzhutter, N. Berndt

Date Published: 2nd Aug 2017

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

BACKGROUND: Adaptation of the cellular metabolism to varying external conditions is brought about by regulated changes in the activity of enzymes and transporters. Hormone-dependent reversible enzyme phosphorylation and concentration changes of reactants and allosteric effectors are the major types of rapid kinetic enzyme regulation, whereas on longer time scales changes in protein abundance may also become operative. Here, we used a comprehensive mathematical model of the hepatic glucose metabolism of rat hepatocytes to decipher the relative importance of different regulatory modes and their mutual interdependencies in the hepatic control of plasma glucose homeostasis. RESULTS: Model simulations reveal significant differences in the capability of liver metabolism to counteract variations of plasma glucose in different physiological settings (starvation, ad libitum nutrient supply, diabetes). Changes in enzyme abundances adjust the metabolic output to the anticipated physiological demand but may turn into a regulatory disadvantage if sudden unexpected changes of the external conditions occur. Allosteric and hormonal control of enzyme activities allow the liver to assume a broad range of metabolic states and may even fully reverse flux changes resulting from changes of enzyme abundances alone. Metabolic control analysis reveals that control of the hepatic glucose metabolism is mainly exerted by enzymes alone, which are differently controlled by alterations in enzyme abundance, reversible phosphorylation, and allosteric effects. CONCLUSION: In hepatic glucose metabolism, regulation of enzyme activities by changes of reactants, allosteric effects, and reversible phosphorylation is equally important as changes in protein abundance of key regulatory enzymes.

Authors: S. Bulik, H. G. Holzhutter, N. Berndt

Date Published: 2nd Mar 2016

Publication Type: Not specified

Abstract

Not specified

Authors: Hermann-Georg Holzhütter, Nikolaus Berndt

Date Published: No date defined

Publication Type: Not specified

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