Liver study offers insights into hard-to-treat diseases

March 9, 2018, University of Edinburgh
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A key cell process that could cause damage to bile ducts and help explain some liver diseases has been identified by scientists.

Experiments showed that triggering the process harms vital cells in , while blocking the process reverses in mice.

The findings could help develop new treatments for bile duct diseases, which are linked to increased risk of cancers and , researchers say.

Scientists sought to better understand how disease is caused in bile ducts. Damage to the ducts - small channels running through the liver that help the body dispose of waste - can result in tissue scarring and liver failure.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh examined donated by patients with chronic bile duct disease. They found evidence of a cell process known as senescence, which was not seen in healthy people.

Senescence - when aged cells no longer undergo natural division - has an important role in the normal function of the body.

However, the research shows that senescence also contributes to disease, preventing repair of damaged bile ducts caused by wear and tear, leading to liver failure.

Tests in mice found that inducing senescence in bile duct cells - mimicking the process seen in human bile duct disease - led to liver scarring and damage of liver function.

Blocking chemical messages sent out by cells during senescence restored in mice, pointing towards new treatment targets.

The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, was funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC).

Professor Stuart Forbes, Director of the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, said "Bile duct disease has been poorly understood and this has severely hampered the development of effective treatment. This work takes meaningful steps towards understanding this debilitating disease, identifying a potential target for future therapies."

Explore further: Artificial bile ducts grown in lab, transplanted into mice could help treat liver disease

More information: Sofia Ferreira-Gonzalez et al, Paracrine cellular senescence exacerbates biliary injury and impairs regeneration, Nature Communications (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-03299-5

Related Stories

Artificial bile ducts grown in lab, transplanted into mice could help treat liver disease

July 3, 2017
Cambridge scientists have developed a new method for growing and transplanting artificial bile ducts that could in future be used to help treat liver disease in children, reducing the need for liver transplantation.

Scientists create most sophisticated human liver model yet

February 13, 2018
Scientists at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) have developed the most sophisticated mini-livers to date. These organoids can potentially help scientists better understand certain congenital liver diseases ...

Regular aspirin use may protect against bile duct cancer

May 9, 2016
(HealthDay)—Regular aspirin use may lower the risk of bile duct cancer, according to a study published online April 26 in Hepatology.

Cystic fibrosis treatment tested on lab-grown bile ducts

July 14, 2015
An experimental cystic fibrosis drug has been shown prevent the disease's damage to the liver, thanks to a world-first where scientists grew mini bile ducts in the lab.

Bile duct cancer study sheds light on triggers that cause disease

October 10, 2016
Scientists have identified a molecule that drives the development of bile duct cancer.

Recommended for you

A new approach to developing a vaccine against vivax malaria

September 21, 2018
A novel study reports an innovative approach for developing a vaccine against Plasmodium vivax, the most prevalent human malaria parasite outside sub-Saharan Africa. The study led by Hernando A. del Portillo and Carmen Fernandez-Becerra, ...

Pre-clinical success for a universal flu vaccine offers hope for third generation approach

September 21, 2018
Researchers from the University of Oxford's Department of Zoology have demonstrated pre-clinical success for a universal flu vaccine in a new paper published in Nature Communications.

Fighting a deadly parasite: Scientists devise a method to store Cryptosporidium, aiding vaccine research efforts

September 21, 2018
In May, just before one of the hottest summers on record, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning about diseases lurking in recreational water facilities like swimming pools and water playgrounds. ...

Scientists make significant discovery in the fight against drug-resistant tuberculosis

September 20, 2018
A team of scientists have identified a naturally occurring antibiotic that may help in the fight against drug-resistant Tuberculosis.

Anti-cancer drugs may hold key to overcoming antimalarial drug resistance

September 20, 2018
Scientists have found a way to boost the efficacy of the world's most powerful antimalarial drug with the help of chemotherapy medicines, according to new research published in the journal Nature Communications.

Affordable Care Act: Study finds surprising gaps in HIV care providers' knowledge

September 20, 2018
A new study has revealed surprising gaps in some HIV medical providers' knowledge of the Affordable Care Act, with more than a quarter of providers surveyed unable to say whether their state had expanded Medicaid.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

gzurbay
not rated yet Mar 09, 2018
One has to ask if shortened telomeres might influence a failure of cell division.

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.