Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Antioxidant may prevent alcohol-induced liver disease

An antioxidant may prevent damage to the liver caused by excessive alcohol, according to new research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The findings, published online April 21, 2011, in the journal Hepatology, may point the way to treatments to reverse steatosis, or fatty deposits in the liver that can lead to cirrhosis and cancer.

The research team, led by Victor Darley-Usmar, Ph.D., professor of pathology at UAB, introduced an antioxidant called mitochondria-targeted ubiquinone, or MitoQ, to the mitochondria of rats that were given alcohol every day for five to six weeks in an amount sufficient to mirror excessive intake in a human.

Chronic alcoholics, those who drink to excess every day, experience a buildup of fat in the liver cells. When alcohol is metabolized in the liver, it creates free radicals that damage mitochondria in the liver cells and prevent them from using sufficient amounts of oxygen to produce energy. Moreover, the low-oxygen condition called hypoxia worsens mitochondrial damage and promotes the formation of the fatty deposits that can progress to cirrhosis.

Darley-Usmar and his collaborators say that the antioxidant MitoQ is able to intercept and neutralize free radicals before they can damage the mitochondria, preventing the cascade of effects that ultimately leads to steatosis.

"There has not been a promising pharmaceutical approach to preventing or reversing the long-term damage associated with fatty deposits in the liver that result from excessive consumption of alcohol," said Darley-Usmar. "Our findings suggest that MitoQ might be a useful agent for treating the liver damage caused by prolonged, habitual alcohol use."

"Previous studies have shown that MitoQ can be safely administered long-term to humans," said Balu Chacko, Ph.D., a research associate and co-author of the study. "As it has been shown to decrease liver damage in hepatitis C patients, it may have potential to ameliorate the initial stages of fatty liver disease in patients with alcoholic and non-alcoholic liver disease."

The Annals of Hepatology estimate that alcohol abuse costs $185 billion annually in the United States, and that 2 million people have some form of alcoholic liver disease. It links as much as 90 percent of cirrhosis of the liver is related to alcohol abuse and up to 30 percent of liver cancer.

Darley-Usmar, who is also the director of the Center for Free Radical Biology at UAB, says his team is in discussions with the National Institutes of Health to develop a whole family of drugs based around interactions with mitochondria. He suggests such drugs might be effective in treating cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and neurodegenerative disorders.

"We know that free radicals play a role in human disease, and we have developed antioxidants that can eliminate free radicals in the laboratory," he said. "Unfortunately, previous trials using antioxidants in humans have not been as successful as anticipated. The difference with our current findings is that we targeted a specific part of the cell, the mitochondria. This is a unique approach, and this is one of the few pre-clinical trials that shows effectiveness."

Darley-Usmar says the findings also may have significance for the treatment of metabolic syndrome, a rapidly growing condition that affects some 50 million Americans, according to the American Heart Association.

"Metabolic syndrome describes a complex interaction of factors caused by obesity which includes damage to the liver due to an increase in free radicals, hypoxia and deposition of fat," said Darley-Usmar. "It's quite similar to alcohol-dependent hepatotoxicity. It would be interesting to see if an antioxidant such as MitoQ had any therapeutic effect in preventing liver damage in those with metabolic syndrome."

Primary collaborators on the study are Michael P. Murphy, Ph.D., MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit, Cambridge, UK and Balaraman Kalyanaraman, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin. The research group at UAB included Anup Srivastava, Ph.D., Michelle Johnson, Gloria Benavides, Ph.D., Yaozu Ye, M.D., Nirag Jhala, Mi Jung Chang. Funding for the study came from the National Institutes of Health.

About UAB

Known for its innovative and interdisciplinary approach to education at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, the University of Alabama at Birmingham is the state of Alabama's largest employer and an internationally renowned research university and academic health center; its professional schools and specialty patient-care programs are consistently ranked among the nation's top 50. Find more information at and

EDITOR'S NOTE: The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is a separate, independent institution from the University of Alabama, which is located in Tuscaloosa. Please use University of Alabama at Birmingham on first reference and UAB on second reference.


Bob Shepard | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia
21.10.2016 | Universitätsklinikum Magdeburg

nachricht New potential cancer treatment using microwaves to target deep tumors
12.10.2016 | University of Texas at Arlington

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>