Reactive Oxygen Species and Oxidative Stress in the Pathogenesis of MAFLD

Kathleen Clare, John F. Dillon, Paul N. Brennan (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
55 Downloads (Pure)


The pathogenesis of metabolic-associated fatty liver disease (MAFLD) is complex and thought to be dependent on multiple parallel hits on a background of genetic susceptibility. The evidence suggests that MAFLD progression is a dynamic two-way process relating to repetitive bouts of metabolic stress and inflammation interspersed with endogenous anti-inflammatory reparative responses. In MAFLD, excessive hepatic lipid accumulation causes the production of lipotoxins that induce mitochondrial dysfunction, endoplasmic reticular stress, and over production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Models of MAFLD show marked disruption of mitochondrial function and reduced oxidative capacitance with impact on cellular processes including mitophagy, oxidative phosphorylation, and mitochondrial biogenesis. In excess, ROS modify insulin and innate immune signaling and alter the expression and activity of essential enzymes involved in lipid homeostasis. ROS can also cause direct damage to intracellular structures causing hepatocyte injury and death. In select cases, the use of anti-oxidants and ROS scavengers have been shown to diminish the pro-apoptopic effects of fatty acids. Given this link, endogenous anti-oxidant pathways have been a target of interest, with Nrf2 activation showing a reduction in oxidative stress and inflammation in models of MAFLD. Thyroid hormone receptor β (THRβ) agonists and nuclear peroxisome proliferation-activated receptor (PPAR) family have also gained interest in reducing hepatic lipotoxicity and restoring hepatic function in models of MAFLD. Unfortunately, the true interplay between the clinical and molecular components of MAFLD progression remain only partly understood. Most recently, multiomics-based strategies are being adopted for hypothesis-free analysis of the molecular changes in MAFLD. Transcriptome profiling maps the unique genotype-phenotype associations in MAFLD and with various single-cell transcriptome-based projects underway, there is hope of novel physiological insights to MAFLD progression and uncover therapeutic targets.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)939-946
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical and Translational Hepatology
Issue number5
Early online date6 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


  • Fatty liver disease
  • Metabolic-associated fatty liver disease
  • Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis
  • Oxidative stress
  • Reactive oxidation species

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology


Dive into the research topics of 'Reactive Oxygen Species and Oxidative Stress in the Pathogenesis of MAFLD'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this