Parenteral nutrition (PN) is typically administered to individuals with gastrointestinal dysfunction, a contraindication for enteral feeding, and a need for nutritional therapy. When PN is the only energy source in patients, it is defined as total parenteral nutrition (TPN). TPN is a life-saving approach for different patient populations, both in infants and adults. However, despite numerous benefits, TPN can cause adverse effects, including metabolic disorders and liver injury. TPN-associated liver injury, known as intestinal failure-associated liver disease (IFALD), represents a significant problem affecting up to 90% of individuals receiving TPN. IFALD pathogenesis is complex, depending on the TPN components as well as on the patient's medical conditions. Despite numerous animal studies and clinical observations, the molecular mechanisms driving IFALD remain largely unknown. The present study was set up to elucidate the mechanisms underlying IFALD. For this purpose, human liver spheroid co-cultures were treated with a TPN mixture, followed by RNA sequencing analysis. Subsequently, following exposure to TPN and its single nutritional components, several key events of liver injury, including mitochondrial dysfunction, endoplasmic reticulum stress, oxidative stress, apoptosis, and lipid accumulation (steatosis), were studied using various techniques. It was found that prolonged exposure to TPN substantially changes the transcriptome profile of liver spheroids and affects multiple metabolic and signaling pathways contributing to liver injury. Moreover, TPN and its main components, especially lipid emulsion, induce changes in all key events measured and trigger steatosis.

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