Repetitive amiodarone administration causes liver damage via adipose tissue ER stress-dependent lipolysis, leading to hepatotoxic free fatty acid accumulation

Einav Hubel, Sigal Fishman, Minna Holopainen, Reijo Kakel, Ortal Shaffer, Inbal Houri, Isabel Zvibel, Oren Shibolet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Drug-induced liver injury is an emerging form of acute and chronic liver disease that may manifest as fatty liver. Amiodarone (AMD), a widely used antiarrhythmic drug, can cause hepatic injury and steatosis by a variety of mechanisms, not all completely understood. We hypothesized that repetitive AMD administration may induce hepatic lipotoxicity not only via effects on the liver but also via effects on adipose tissue. Indeed, repetitive AMD administration induced endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in both liver and adipose tissue. In adipose tissue, AMD reduced lipogenesis and increased lipolysis. Moreover, AMD treatment induced ER stress and ER stress-dependent lipolysis in 3T3L1 adipocytes in vitro. In the liver, AMD caused increased expression of genes encoding proteins involved in fatty acid (FA) uptake and transfer (Cd36, Fabp1, and Fabp4), and resulted in increased hepatic accumulation of free FAs, but not of triacylglycerols. In line with this, there was increased expression of hepatic de novo FA synthesis genes. However, AMD significantly reduced the expression of the desaturase Scd1 and elongase Elovl6, detected at mRNA and protein levels. Accordingly, the FA profile of hepatic total lipids revealed increased accumulation of palmitate, an SCD1 and ELOVL6 substrate, and reduced levels of palmitoleate and cis-vaccenate, products of the enzymes. In addition, AMD-treated mice displayed increased hepatic apoptosis. The studies show that repetitive AMD induces ER stress and aggravates lipolysis in adipose tissue while inducing a lipotoxic hepatic lipid environment, suggesting that AMD-induced liver damage is due to compound insult to liver and adipose tissue. NEW & NOTEWORTHY AMD chronic administration induces hepatic lipid accumulation by several mechanisms, including induction of hepatic ER stress, impairment of b-oxidation, and inhibition of triacylglycerol secretion. Our study shows that repetitive AMD treatment induces not only hepatic ER stress but also adipose tissue ER stress and lipolysis and hepatic accumulation of free fatty acids and enrichment of palmitate in the total lipids. Understanding the toxicity mechanisms of AMD would help devise ways to limit liver damage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)G298-G307
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2021


  • Amiodarone
  • Drug-induced liver injury
  • ER stress
  • Lipogenesis
  • Lipolysis


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