GSBS Dissertations and Theses

Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program




First Thesis Advisor

Gyongyi Szabo, MD, PhD


Alcoholism, Alcoholic Fatty Liver, Hepatocytes, Liver Cirrhosis, Alcoholic Liver Diseases, MicroRNAs


Dissertations, UMMS; Alcoholism; Fatty Liver, Alcoholic; Hepatocytes; Liver Cirrhosis; Liver Diseases, Alcoholic; MicroRNAs


Chronic alcohol use results in accelerated liver injury, leading to alcoholic steatohepatitis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. However, due to the complex nature of this disease process, a central, druggable mechanism has remained elusive. microRNAs are potent post-transcriptional regulators of gene expression. A single miRNA has the ability to regulate hundreds of pathways simultaneously, defining cellular fate and function. microRNA-122 (miR-122), the most abundant miRNA in hepatocytes, has a demonstrated role as an tumor suppressor, regulator of hepatocyte metabolism, and hepatic differentiation.

In this dissertation I demonstrate the role of miR-122 on alcoholic liver disease (ALD) pathogenesis over four parts. In chapter II, I will demonstrate chronic alcoholic patients, free of neoplastic changes, have a reduction of miR-122 and that this miRNA regulates HIF-1α, a determinant of ALD pathogenesis. In chapter III, using hepatocytetropic adeno-associated virus 8 (AAV8) vector, I demonstrate that miR-122 inhibition mimics ALD pathogenesis, and furthermore, using hepatocyte-specific HIF-1α-null (HIF1hepKO) mice that this phenomenon is HIF-1α dependent. Given this finding, in chapter IV, I demonstrate that ectopic expression of miR-122 in vivo can reverse alcoholinduced liver damage, steatosis, and inflammation by directly targeting HIF-1α. Finally, in chapter V, I present evidence that alcohol-induced dysregulation of grainyhead-like proteins 1 and 2 (GRHL2), mediate the inhibition of miR-122 at the transcriptional level. These findings dissect a novel mechanistic regulatory axis of miR-122 and indicate a potential opportunity for restoration of miR-122 as a therapy in early ALD.



Rights and Permissions

Copyright is held by the author, with all rights reserved.