Excessive alcohol intake with hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection accelerates chronic liver disease progression and patients with HBV infection are more susceptible to alcohol-induced liver disease. Hepatitis B virus X protein (HBx) plays a crucial role in disease pathogenesis, while its specific role in alcoholic liver disease (ALD) progression has not yet been elucidated. Here, we studied the role of HBx on the development of ALD.


HBx-transgenic (HBx-Tg) mice and their wild-type littermates were exposed to chronic plus binge alcohol feeding. Primary hepatocytes, cell lines, and human samples were used to investigate the interaction between HBx and acetaldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2). Lipid profiles in mouse livers and cells were assessed by using liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry.


We identified that HBx significantly aggravated alcohol-induced steatohepatitis, oxidative stress, and lipid peroxidation in mice. In addition, HBx induced worse lipid profiles with high lysophospholipids generation in alcoholic steatohepatitis, as shown by using lipidomic analysis. Importantly, serum and liver acetaldehyde were markedly higher in alcohol-fed HBx-Tg mice. Acetaldehyde induced lysophospholipids generation through oxidative stress in hepatocytes. Mechanistically, HBx directly bound to mitochondrial ALDH2 to induce its ubiquitin–proteasome degradation, resulting in acetaldehyde accumulation. More importantly, we also identified that patients with HBV infection reduced ALDH2 protein levels in the liver.


Our study demonstrated that HBx-induced ubiquitin-dependent degradation of mitochondrial ALDH2 aggravates alcoholic steatohepatitis.

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