Nav: Home

Texas A&M-led collaborative study takes aim at non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

February 26, 2018

COLLEGE STATION - Texas A&M University System researchers in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs and Baylor Scott & White Research Institute have completed a study identifying one of the mechanisms leading to the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD, providing new possibilities for prevention and treatment of the disease.

The study, which included input from researchers affiliated with Wuhan University, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Chongqing Medical University, Peking University, Augusta University and the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System was published in the journal Hepatology. It can currently be found online at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hep.29777/abstract.

Dr. Chaodong Wu. (Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo)

"Our research involved the adenosine 2A receptor, which plays a protective role against tissue damage," said Dr. Chaodong Wu, a Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist in the nutrition and food science department of Texas A&M University in College Station. "It can reduce overactive immune cell activity, protecting tissues from being damaged by inflammation. However, until now its role in protecting from tissue damage relative to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease was largely unknown."

Wu said through this study, the researchers examined the effects disrupting this receptor would have on aspects of obesity-associated NAFLD so they could understand the underlying mechanisms.

"While these receptors normally serve as a protective mechanism, they may be destructive if they become disrupted," he said. "For our study we used receptor-disrupted animal models for comparison to a control."

Both animal model groups were fed a high-fat diet to induce NAFLD, then were examined for inflammatory and metabolic responses.

Dr. Gianfranco Alpini. (Photo courtesy Texas A&M College of Medicine)

"The results showed those models with the disrupted receptor had an increased severity of fatty liver disease and inflammation compared to the control model fed the same high-fat diet," said Dr. Gianfranco Alpini, distinguished professor in the medical physiology department at Texas A&M College of Medicine. Alpini is also a senior research scientist at Central Texas Veterans Health Care System and director of the Baylor Scott & White Digestive Disease Research Center.

Alpini said the study's investigation of the macrophages--large white blood cells that ingest foreign particles and infectious microorganisms--and liver cells of the receptor-disrupted animal models showed increased pro-inflammatory responses and enhanced fat deposition.

"Receptor deficiency also significantly increased the amount of a regulatory element-binding protein in the liver cells of fasted animal models," said Dr. Heather Francis, associate professor of medical physiology at Texas A&M College of Medicine and the study's co-author. "The increase in this protein was commensurate with an associated increase in the potential for fatty deposits in the liver."

Wu said the accumulative study results demonstrated receptor disruption in both macrophages and liver cells accounts for increased severity of NAFLD, likely through increasing inflammation and elevating fat deposits by stimulating the activity of a factor controlling protein expression of fat deposition.

"Overall, the study validates the importance of adenosine 2A receptor as a therapeutic and/or preventive target for NAFLD," Wu said. "This is significant in that it demonstrates the feasibility of targeting that receptor to treat non-alcoholic fatty liver disease by means of its activation."

He said based on the results generated, once bioactive food components capable of activating the receptor can be identified, these components and foods enriched with these components can be used to help prevent non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Wu said the study would not have been possible without the collaboration of the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System and Baylor Scott & White Research Institute's team at the Baylor Scott & White Digestive Disease Research Center.

"Many members of the study team, including Alpini and Francis, as well as Drs. Fanyin Meng and Shannon Glaser, associate professor of medical physiology at Texas A&M College of Medicine, are also affiliated with one or more of these institutions," he said.
-end-
Contacts:

Chaodong Wu
979-458-1521
cdwu@tamu.edu

Holly Shive
979-436-0613
hshive@tamhsc.edu

Texas A&M AgriLife Communications

Related Fatty Liver Disease Articles:

New study: Unsaturated fat associated with fatty liver disease
As the obesity epidemic continues, new data shed light on which nutrients and what quantity of those nutrients promote health or disease.
Scientists reverse mechanism of fatty liver disease
Researchers have identified the mechanism which causes a build-up of fat in the liver in a disease affecting one in five in the UK -- and were able to reverse it in a mouse model.
Cellular stress in the brain may contribute to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
Research published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation Insight shows that cellular stress in the brain may contribute to development of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
Inflammatory signature of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
A team of investigators led by Rohit Kohli, MBBS, MS, of Children's Hospital Los Angeles, has identified key inflammatory cells involved in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
Obesity amplifies genetic risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
An international study based at UT Southwestern Medical Center revealed a striking genetic-environmental interaction: Obesity significantly amplifies the effects of three gene variants that increase risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) by different metabolic pathways.
Both low and high birth weight linked to fatty liver disease in children
Both high and low birth weights show increased risk for developing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
Birth weight is risk factor for fatty liver disease in children
Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, with a cohort of clinical collaborators from across the United States, have demonstrated the impact of low and high birth weights in developing Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), a chronic disease that often leads to a need for organ transplantation.
A new index for the diagnosis of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease has become a global epidemic. There is not only a great interest worldwide to understand the causes and consequences of fatty liver disease, but also to diagnose fatty liver disease at an early stage.
Unveiling the biology behind nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
EPFL scientists have discovered a new biological mechanism behind nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
Antioxidant may protect offspring of obese mothers from fatty liver disease
In new research published online in The FASEB Journal, scientists show that the antioxidant pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) may prevent the development of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in offspring.

Related Fatty Liver Disease Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Jumpstarting Creativity
Our greatest breakthroughs and triumphs have one thing in common: creativity. But how do you ignite it? And how do you rekindle it? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas on jumpstarting creativity. Guests include economist Tim Harford, producer Helen Marriage, artificial intelligence researcher Steve Engels, and behavioral scientist Marily Oppezzo.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#524 The Human Network
What does a network of humans look like and how does it work? How does information spread? How do decisions and opinions spread? What gets distorted as it moves through the network and why? This week we dig into the ins and outs of human networks with Matthew Jackson, Professor of Economics at Stanford University and author of the book "The Human Network: How Your Social Position Determines Your Power, Beliefs, and Behaviours".