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Ashley Patton, Tyler Church, Caroline Wilson, Jean Thuma, Douglas J Goetz, Darlene E Berryman, Edward O List, Frank Schwartz, and Kelly D McCall

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the hepatic manifestation of both metabolic and inflammatory diseases and has become the leading chronic liver disease worldwide. High-fat (HF) diets promote an increased uptake and storage of free fatty acids (FFAs) and triglycerides (TGs) in hepatocytes, which initiates steatosis and induces lipotoxicity, inflammation and insulin resistance. Activation and signaling of Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) by FFAs induces inflammation evident in NAFLD and insulin resistance. Currently, there are no effective treatments to specifically target inflammation associated with this disease. We have established the efficacy of phenylmethimazole (C10) to prevent lipopolysaccharide and palmitate-induced TLR4 signaling. Because TLR4 is a key mediator in pro-inflammatory responses, it is a potential therapeutic target for NAFLD. Here, we show that treatment with C10 inhibits HF diet-induced inflammation in both liver and mesenteric adipose tissue measured by a decrease in mRNA levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Additionally, C10 treatment improves glucose tolerance and hepatic steatosis despite the development of obesity due to HF diet feeding. Administration of C10 after 16 weeks of HF diet feeding reversed glucose intolerance, hepatic inflammation, and improved hepatic steatosis. Thus, our findings establish C10 as a potential therapeutic for the treatment of NAFLD.