The Journal of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics

Different mechanisms for histone acetylation by ethanol and its metabolite acetate in rat primary hepatocytes.

PMID 25886906


Ethanol and its major metabolite acetate both induced histone H3 acetylation in primary culture of rat hepatocytes. The acetylation by ethanol was dependent on the reactive oxygen species and mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway, whereas that by acetate was independent of both pathways. Ethanol increased CYP2E1 protein expression but acetate had negligible effect. The level of phospho-H2AX, an indicator of DNA breaks, was elevated by ethanol but not by acetate. Ethanol and acetate differentially activated mRNA expression for different genes, e.g., IL-6, PPARγ, c-Fos, Egr-1, and PNPLA3 in hepatocytes. The most striking increase (3-fold) was in PNPLA3 mRNA by ethanol with little change by acetate. It was further shown that acetate inhibited histone deacetylase activity. Taken together, these data establish for the first time that ethanol and acetate exhibit differences in their effects on hepatocytes in gene expression, P-H2AX levels, and the mechanism of histone H3 acetylation. The implications of these differences in the actions of ethanol in liver are discussed.