Fatty liver disease, specifically nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), is a condition that has quietly become a major health concern.
About one in four people in the world has it, and it’s not something to ignore. If left untreated, it can pave the way for all sorts of other health problems like type 2 diabetes, heart problems, and even liver cancer.
The hard part? In the early stages, you probably won’t even realize you have it, as there are usually no symptoms.
Currently, the only known way to manage NAFLD is through lifestyle changes, such as exercise and reducing calorie intake. However, these changes only really help in the early stages of the disease.
There are no drugs to treat it once the disease reaches a more serious stage called NASH (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis). Therefore, scientists are looking for new treatment options.
The great discovery: Adgrf1
Researchers led by Mengyao Wu of Guangzhou University in China think they are on to something. They studied a molecule called Adgrf1, which is mainly found in the liver.
When they fed mice a high-fat diet, levels of this molecule in the liver fell sharply, suggesting it could be a sign of NAFLD.
That’s a big deal, because if they understand how this molecule works, they could potentially develop a drug aimed at treating or even preventing fatty liver disease.
But that’s not all. The scientists also manipulated Adgrf1 levels in mice. The mice showed clear signs of diabetes, such as higher sugar and insulin levels.
This suggests that Adgrf1 plays a role in how the body processes fat and sugar. They went even further and used a technique to block Adgrf1 in mice that already had fatty liver disease. Guess what? Her liver health improved.
To confirm that this wasn’t just a mouse thing, the researchers looked at liver samples from people at different stages of NAFLD.
What they found matched their mouse studies. People with severe fatty liver disease had higher Adgrf1 levels.
Why is that important?
This is enormous because it opens up new possibilities for the treatment of fatty liver disease. Because Adgrf1 is primarily found in the liver, a drug targeting it would likely have fewer side effects on other organs.
Should further studies confirm these results, it could lead to a new drug that could be a game changer for people with the disease.
The next steps are to study the exact mode of action of Adgrf1 and to develop safe and effective ways to drug it.
If successful, it could bring a glimmer of hope to millions of people around the world suffering from fatty liver disease and give them a treatment option that doesn’t currently exist.
If liver health is important to you, please read studies on it dairy products linked to liver cancer, And Coffee drinkers can cut their risk of liver cancer in half.
For more information on liver health, see recent studies Eating an anti-inflammatory diet may help prevent fatty liver diseaseand results are displayed Vitamin D may help prevent nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
The study was published in eLife.
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