Heme oxygenase (HO) is a critical component of the defense mechanism to a wide variety of cellular stressors. HO induction affords cellular protection through the breakdown of toxic heme into metabolites, helping preserve cellular integrity. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a pathological condition by which the liver accumulates fat. The incidence of NAFLD has reached all-time high levels driven primarily by the obesity epidemic. NALFD can progress to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), advancing further to liver cirrhosis or cancer. NAFLD is also a contributing factor to cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. There are currently no drugs to specifically treat NAFLD, with most treatments focused on lifestyle modifications. One emerging area for NAFLD treatment is the use of dietary supplements such as curcumin, pomegranate seed oil, milk thistle oil, cold-pressed Nigella Satvia oil, and resveratrol, among others. Recent studies have demonstrated that several of these natural dietary supplements attenuate hepatic lipid accumulation and fibrosis in NAFLD animal models. The beneficial actions of several of these compounds are associated with the induction of heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1). Thus, targeting HO-1 through dietary-supplements may be a useful therapeutic for NAFLD either alone or with lifestyle modifications.

Document Type


Publication Date


Notes/Citation Information

Published in International Journal of Molecular Sciences, v. 21, issue 24, 9493.

© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Funding Information

This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health 1R01DK121797 (T.D.H.J.) and 1R01DK126884 (D.E.S.), the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute K01HL125445 (T.D.H.J.) and P01HL0519711 (D.E.S.), and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences P20GM104357 (D.E.S.).