Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New animal model may lead to treatments for common liver disease

04.07.2012
Scientists at Texas Biomed have developed the laboratory opossum as a new animal model to study the most common liver disease in the nation – afflicting up to 15 million Americans – and for which there is no cure.

The condition, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), resembles alcoholic liver disease, but occurs in people who drink little or no alcohol. The major feature of NASH is accumulation of fat in the liver, along with inflammation and functional damage. Most people with NASH feel well and are not aware that they have a liver problem.

Nevertheless, NASH can progress to cirrhosis, in which the liver is permanently damaged and no longer able to work properly. NASH-related cirrhosis is the fourth most common indication for liver transplantation in the U.S.

NASH affects 2 to 5 percent of Americans – roughly six million to 15 million people. An additional 15 to 30 percent of Americans have excess fat in their livers, but no inflammation or liver damage, a condition called "fatty liver" or the non-progressive form of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

The study, published in the July issue of the American Journal of Physiology-Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology, was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the Robert J. Kleberg, Jr., and Helen C. Kleberg Foundation.

"This is the type of model in which to develop mechanism-based therapies," writes Geoffrey C Farrell, M.D., of the Australian National University Medical School in Canberra, in a journal editorial.

Both NASH and NAFLD are becoming more common, possibly because of the greater number of Americans with obesity and its important health complications, type 2 diabetes, high blood cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and other risk factors for heart attack and stroke. In the past 10 years, the prevalence of obesity has doubled in adults and tripled in children. It was previously reported by other scientists that the prevalence of NAFLD and NASH in a cohort of middle-aged patients in San Antonio is 46 percent and 12 percent, respectively.

"It now seems likely that genetic factors, such as those important for diabetes and high cholesterol levels, are what determines why a small proportion of those with fatty liver develop NASH and its complications of cirrhosis and liver cancer," said Farrell.

In the new study, high responding opossums developed elevated cholesterol and fatty liver disease when fed a high cholesterol and high fat diet, whereas low responding opossums did not. High responders carry a mutated ABCB4 gene, which affects their ability to secrete excess cholesterol from the liver into bile which, in turn, transports the cholesterol to the intestines for excretion from the body. As a consequence, opossums with the mutated gene accumulate cholesterol in the liver and ultimately in the blood.

"We showed that the fatty livers of high responders contain a tremendous amount of cholesterol," said first author Jeannie Chan, Ph.D., of Texas Biomed. "The opossum is a new animal model for investigating the mechanism by which cholesterol mediates liver injury, which will lead to a better understanding of the role of dietary cholesterol in the development of NASH."

Co-authors on the study included Rampratap S. Kushwaha, Ph.D., Jane F. VandeBerg, and John L. VandeBerg, Ph.D., all of Texas Biomed; and Francis E. Sharkey, M.D., of the UT Health Science Center San Antonio.

Texas Biomed, formerly the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, is one of the world's leading independent biomedical research institutions dedicated to advancing health worldwide through innovative biomedical research. Located on a 200-acre campus on the northwest side of San Antonio, Texas, the Institute partners with hundreds of researchers and institutions around the world, targeting advances in the fight against AIDS, hepatitis, malaria, parasitic infections and a host of other infectious diseases, as well as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, psychiatric disorders, and problems of pregnancy.

For more information on Texas Biomed, go to www.TxBiomed.org, or call Joe Carey, Texas Biomed's Vice President for Public Affairs, at 210-258-9437.

Joseph Carey | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.txbiomed.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Meadows beat out shrubs when it comes to storing carbon
23.11.2017 | Norwegian University of Science and Technology

nachricht Migrating Cells: Folds in the cell membrane supply material for necessary blebs
23.11.2017 | Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New proton record: Researchers measure magnetic moment with greatest possible precision

High-precision measurement of the g-factor eleven times more precise than before / Results indicate a strong similarity between protons and antiprotons

The magnetic moment of an individual proton is inconceivably small, but can still be quantified. The basis for undertaking this measurement was laid over ten...

Im Focus: Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus

Computer simulation shows how the icy moon heats water in a porous rock core

Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Lightning, with a chance of antimatter

24.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

A huge hydrogen generator at the Earth's core-mantle boundary

24.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

Scientists find why CP El Niño is harder to predict than EP El Niño

24.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>