Researchers identify changes in cholesterol metabolic pathways

June 7, 2012

A new study from the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine has identified molecular changes responsible for abnormal cholesterol production and metabolism in the livers of patients with a common liver condition, and these changes may explain the severity of a patient's liver disease and risks to their heart health.

It is estimated that a third of Americans have a fatty liver. Nonalcoholic is a very common liver condition. Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, the more aggressive form of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, is associated with increased and liver-related mortality.

The VCU findings may provide researchers with potential new targets for treatment and also allow clinicians to further refine how they assess cardiovascular risk and develop ways to reduce it in individuals with a more aggressive form of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease called nonalcoholic , or NASH.

In the study, published in the May issue of , the team has shown that there is not only increased production of cholesterol but a decreased expression of the receptor that takes up cholesterol from the blood. This would be expected to both enhance cholesterol output from the liver and reduce its removal, thereby making it more available to enter blood vessels and contribute to cardiovascular disease. The liver not only makes cholesterol, but also takes up cholesterol from the blood.

"This indicates that there is excessive cholesterol production in the liver when one develops fatty liver disease," said lead investigator Arun Sanyal, M.D., professor and chair in the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition in the VCU School of Medicine.

"This may be important both to drive the disease towards cirrhosis and to increase the risks of heart disease in those with fatty liver disease," said Sanyal.

Sanyal collaborated with VCU colleagues in the VCU Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, the Department of Surgery and the Department of Pathology.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

A cheaper, high-performance prosthetic knee

July 30, 2015

In the last two decades, prosthetic limb technology has grown by leaps and bounds. Today, the most advanced prostheses incorporate microprocessors that work with onboard gyroscopes, accelerometers, and hydraulics to enable ...

Crystal clear images uncover secrets of hormone receptors

July 31, 2015

Many hormones and neurotransmitters work by binding to receptors on a cell's exterior surface. This activates receptors causing them to twist, turn and spark chemical reactions inside cells. NIH scientists used atomic level ...

Flow means 'go' for proper lymph system development

July 27, 2015

The lymphatic system provides a slow flow of fluid from our organs and tissues into the bloodstream. It returns fluid and proteins that leak from blood vessels, provides passage for immune and inflammatory cells from the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.