Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) leads to liver damage, accumulation of lipids, and liver inflammation in individuals who do not consume, or consume only a little alcohol. If untreated, NAFLD can progress to cirrhosis. The origin of the lipids that accumulate in the liver of these patients was unknown. In a new study appearing in the May 2 print issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation, Elizabeth Parks and colleagues from the University of Minnesota use stable isotopes to examine the sources of fatty acids that contribute to fatty liver in humans.
The researchers find that accumulated liver lipids come from serum fatty acids, newly made fatty acids within the liver, and dietary fatty acids. These fats build up in NAFLD because the liver is unable to regulate changes in fat metabolism that normally occur when one alternates between fasted and fed states. In an accompanying commentary, Shinji Tamura and Iichiro Shimomura write, "In light of these findings, it seems possible that the reduction of oxidative stress as well as the use of insulin-sensitizing agentsmay prove to be successful treatments for NAFLD."
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Journal of Clinical Investigation
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