Replacing Alcohol with Soda Not Good for the Liver

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
E. van Eekelen, MSc | PhD Candidate
Leiden University Medical Center
Dept. Clinical Epidemiology
Leiden, The Netherlands

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Fatty liver, defined as excess accumulation of fat within the liver, covers a broad clinical spectrum and is the leading cause of chronic liver diseases. It has also been linked to type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The consumption of alcohol is a well-established risk factor for fatty liver. However, we hypothesized that consumption of non-alcoholic energy-containing beverages also leads to liver fat accumulation. We analysed data from the Netherlands Epidemiology of Obesity (NEO) study, which is a prospective population-based cohort study including non-invasive measurements of liver fat content by magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Besides consumption of alcoholic beverages, sugar sweetened beverages were associated with more liver fat. We specifically showed that replacement of alcoholic beverages with milk was associated with less liver fat, whereas replacement with sugar sweetened beverages was associated with a similar amount of liver fat, even when taking calories into account.  Continue reading

Combination of Alcohol and High BMI Linked to Liver Injury Biomarkers

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Alice R Carter MSc
Doctor of Philosophy Student
MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit
Population Health Science, Bristol Medical School
University of Bristol

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?  

Response: Higher body mass index and alcohol intake have been shown to increase the risk of liver disease. Some studies have looked at their combined effect by comparing the risk of liver disease between individuals with both high BMI and high alcohol intake and individuals with low BMI and low alcohol intake. However, these studies have produced mixed results. Some possible reasons for that are errors in self-reported BMI and alcohol intake, other factors confounding the association of BMI & alcohol intake with liver disease risk and changes in lifestyle that individuals with ill health may have been advised to adopt.

One way to overcome these limitations is to use a technique called Mendelian randomisation. This method uses genetic differences between individuals that influence their characteristics (e.g. their body mass and how much alcohol they drink) to help understand whether these characteristics are causally related to diseases.

Our study used this method to explore the joint effects of BMI and alcohol consumption on liver disease and biomarkers of liver injury.  Continue reading

New Microfluidic Technology Creates Microscale 3D Livers in a Droplet

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Prof. David A. Weitz Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics and Applied Physics School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Harvard University

Prof. David A. Weitz

Prof. David A. Weitz
Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics and Applied Physics
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Harvard University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this technology study? What are the main findings?

Response: Currently, it is very time-consuming and expensive to develop new drugs. One reason is that many drugs fail in clinical trials after animal studies, simply because animals are very different from humans. One promising means of solving this problem is to replace animal experiments with artificial human tissues that can be used to directly screen a drug. However, it is a challenge to construct artificial human tissues, as almost all human tissues are composed of multiple types of cells and extracellular matrices in 3D structures.

In our studies, we have successfully developed a droplet-based microfluidic technique to fabricate large numbers of monodisperse, portable microtissues. We spatially assemble different types of cells in a 3D core-shell structure and construct an artificial human microtissue in each individual drop. The specific structures we create in the microdoplets are designed to mimic the behavior of the liver, and hence we call these structures a ‘liver in a drop.’  Continue reading

Scientists Grow Liver Cells In Lab, Paving Way For Artificial Liver

Prof. Yaakov Nahmias Director of the Alexander Grass Center for Bioengineering Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Dr. Nahmias

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Prof. Yaakov Nahmias PhD
Director of the Alexander Grass Center for Bioengineering
Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Prof. Nahmias: The liver has a limitless capacity of the human liver to regenerate from even a massive loss of mass.

However, the intrinsic capacity of liver cells to proliferate is lost when cells are removed from the body.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Prof. Nahmias: We found that a weak expression of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) proteins released hepatocytes from cell-cycle arrest and permitted the cells to multiply in response to Oncostatin M (OSM) an immune cytokine recently found to be involved in liver regeneration.

While previous efforts caused hepatocytes to multiply without control, converting hepatocytes  into tumor cells with little metabolic ability, we selected colonies that only multiply in response to OSM.

Activation with OSM triggered cell growth with a doubling time of 40 hours. Removal of OSM caused  growth to stop, allowing the cells to regain a high level of metabolic activity within 4 days.

We produced hepatocytes from ethnically diverse individuals. Importantly, the growing hepatocytes  showed a similar toxicology response to normal human hepatocytes across 23 different drugs.

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Liver Inflammation During Pregnancy Linked To Later Life Cancer, Cardiac and Autoimmune Disease

Prof. Hanns-Ulrich Marschall Professor of clinical hepatology Wallenberg Laboratory Sahlgrenska Academy Göteborg, Sweden

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Prof. Hanns-Ulrich Marschall
Professor of clinical hepatology
Wallenberg Laboratory
Sahlgrenska Academy
Göteborg, Sweden

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Marschall: Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy, or ICP, is the most common liver disease during pregnancy, affecting 1.5% of all pregnancies in Sweden. ICP is characterized by otherwise unexplained pruritus with elevated bile acids and/or transaminases in the late second and third trimester of pregnancy. It is well established that ICP is associated with risks for the unborn child, in particular preterm delivery, but also stillbirth.

In contrast, for the mother, ICP has for a long time only been considered as an annoying but not serious condition that spontaneously resolves after delivery.

However, ICP obviously is not such a benign condition for the mother: We have recently shown that women with ICP have a 3- to 5-times increased risk of hepatobiliary diseases, such as hepatitis C, cirrhosis and gallstones. Here we extended our study to investigate the association between ICP and later cancer, diabetes mellitus and other autoimmune-mediated diseases, and cardiovascular diseases.  

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Dr. Marschall: Our study showed that women with ICP were at about 25% increased risk to be later diagnosed with immune-mediated diseases, in particular diabetes mellitus and Crohn’s disease but not ulcerative colitis. There was also a small increased risk of later cardiovascular disease, in particular if the woman with ICP also suffered from preeclampsia.

Most important were the data on the risk of later malignancy: We found a 2.5-times higher risk for cancer in the biliary tree and even a 3.5-times increased risk of liver cancer. Even after adjusting for a diagnosis of hepatitis C, which is very strongly associated with liver cancer, more than 30-times, women with ICP were still at 2.5-times increased risk of later liver malignancy.

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