Introduction and objectives: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) encompasses a spectrum of liver abnormalities including steatosis, steatohepatitis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis. Liver biopsy remains the gold standard method to determine the disease stage in NAFLD but is an invasive and risky procedure. Studies have previously reported that changes in intrahepatic fatty acids (FA) composition are related to the progression of NAFLD, mainly in its early stages. The aim of this study was to characterize the liver FA composition in mice fed a Choline-deficient L-amino-defined (CDAA) diet at different stages of NAFLD using magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS). Methods: We used in-vivo MRS to perform a longitudinal characterization of hepatic FA changes in NAFLD mice for 10 weeks. We validated our findings with ex-vivo MRS, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and histology. Results: In-vivo and ex-vivo results showed that livers from CDAA-fed mice exhibit a significant increase in liver FA content as well as a change in FA composition compared with control mice. After 4 weeks of CDAA diet, a decrease in polyunsaturated and an increase in monounsaturated FA were observed. These changes were associated with the appearance of early stages of steatohepatitis, confirmed by histology (NAFLD Activity Score (NAS) = 4.5). After 10 weeks of CDAA-diet, the liver FA composition remained stable while the NAS increased further to 6 showing a combination of early and late stages of steatohepatitis. Conclusion: Our results suggest that monitoring lipid composition in addition to total water/fat with MRS may yield additional insights that can be translated for non-invasive stratification of high-risk NAFLD patients.
- Choline-deficient, l-amino acid-defined (CDAA)
- Gas chromatography with mass spectrometry (GC–MS)
- Magnetic resonance spectroscopy
- Mouse model
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)