April 24, 2013
Obesity-Related Liver Disease Could Be Treated With Antioxidants
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
Vitamin E could be a new weapon in the fight against obesity-related liver disease known as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), according to new research conducted by researchers from the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and Cornell University.
“The implications of our findings could have a direct impact on the lives of the approximately 63 million Americans who are at potential risk for developing obesity-related liver disease in their lifetimes,” Danny Manor, an associate professor of nutrition and pharmacology at Case Western, said Tuesday in a statement
Manor and his associates, as it turns out, stumbled across their discovery quite by accident. They had been studying the effects of vitamin E deficiency on the central nervous system, and used the liver tissue of mice to practice their surgical techniques.
They discovered that the mice were actually in the advanced stages of NASH, a common complication of obesity characterized by fat accumulation, oxidative stress and inflammation in the liver. According to the researchers, it is the most severe form of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and is also a major cause of cirrhosis, which could lead to liver failure or liver cancer.
Vitamin E had been shown by previous research to alleviate some symptoms of NASH in humans, suggesting that there is a link between the antioxidant and liver disease. In order to test that hypothesis, Minor´s team studied mice which had been genetically modified to lack a protein responsible for regulation of vitamin E in the body. They observed an increase in oxidative stress, fat deposition and other signs of liver damage in the mice.
According to Manor, “supplementation with vitamin E averted the majority of NASH-related symptoms in these animals, confirming the relationship between vitamin E deficiency and liver disease.” He and his colleague Varsha Thakur will present their findings Wednesday at the annual meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) in Boston, Massachusetts.
“These findings may have a significant impact on public health, as the vast majority of adults in the United States do not consume the amount of vitamin E recommended by the National Institute of Medicine,” he said, adding that the recommended daily allowance of vitamin E is 15 milligrams. The antioxidant is found in nuts, seeds, leafy green vegetables, vegetable oils and some nutritionally fortified cereals.
Currently there is no treatment for NASH, which has been linked to obesity and Type 2 diabetes and is one of the ailments most likely to require a liver transplant. However, Manor said, this new research suggests that “simple and affordable dietary intervention may benefit people at risk for this debilitating disease.”