A switch in the source of ATP production and a loss in capacity to perform glycolysis are hallmarks of hepatocyte failure in advance liver disease

Taichiro Nishikawa, Nadège Bellance, Aaron Damm, Han Bing, Zhen Zhu, Kan Handa, Mladen I. Yovchev, Vasudha Sehgal, Tyler J. Moss, Michael Oertel, Prahlad T. Ram, Iraklis I Pipinos, Alejandro Soto-Gutierrez, Ira J. Fox, Deepak Nagrath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

45 Scopus citations


Background & Aims The cause of hepatic failure in the terminal stages of chronic injury is unknown. Cellular metabolic adaptations in response to the microenvironment have been implicated in cellular breakdown. Methods To address the role of energy metabolism in this process we studied mitochondrial number, respiration, and functional reserve, as well as cellular adenosine-5′- triphosphate (ATP) production, glycolytic flux, and expression of glycolysis related genes in isolated hepatocytes from early and terminal stages of cirrhosis using a model that produces hepatic failure from irreversible cirrhosis in rats. To study the clinical relevance of energy metabolism in terminal stages of chronic liver failure, we analyzed glycolysis and energy metabolism related gene expression in liver tissue from patients at different stages of chronic liver failure according to Child-Pugh classification. Additionally, to determine whether the expression of these genes in early-stage cirrhosis (Child-Pugh Class A) is related to patient outcome, we performed network analysis of publicly available microarray data obtained from biopsies of 216 patients with hepatitis C-related Child-Pugh A cirrhosis who were prospectively followed up for a median of 10 years. Results In the early phase of cirrhosis, mitochondrial function and ATP generation are maintained by increasing energy production from glycolytic flux as production from oxidative phosphorylation falls. At the terminal stage of hepatic injury, mitochondria respiration and ATP production are significantly compromised, as the hepatocytes are unable to sustain the increased demand for high levels of ATP generation from glycolysis. This impairment corresponds to a decrease in glucose-6-phosphatase catalytic subunit and phosphoglucomutase 1. Similar decreased gene expression was observed in liver tissue from patients at different stages of chronic liver injury. Further, unbiased network analysis of microarray data revealed that expression of these genes was down regulated in the group of patients with poor outcome. Conclusions An adaptive metabolic shift, from generating energy predominantly from oxidative phosphorylation to glycolysis, allows maintenance of energy homeostasis during early stages of liver injury, but leads to hepatocyte dysfunction during terminal stages of chronic liver disease because hepatocytes are unable to sustain high levels of energy production from glycolysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1203-1211
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Hepatology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014



  • Acute-in-chronic liver failure
  • Adenosine-5′-triphosphate
  • Decompensated liver cirrhosis
  • Glycolysis
  • Hepatocytes
  • Mitochondria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology

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