In a study from Carolinas Medical Center, scientists found that mice bred to consume high amounts of alcohol, but controlled by diet, did not necessarily develop the most severe liver injuries.
This suggests that diet may play an important role in liver injury development.
Alcoholic liver disease is a global health burden and refers to a disease spectrum ranging from hepatomegaly and simple fatty liver (hepatic steatosis), to more severe pathologies such as alcoholic steatohepatitis and hepatic cirrhosis.
In the United States, about half of the population drinks alcohol and approximately 38 million people are estimated to engage in binge drinking behavior.
This study sought to compare mice bred to preferentially consume high amounts of alcohol to other mice using a chronic-binge ethanol ingestion model to induce alcoholic liver disease.
The mice were given different diets over a four-week period.
The researchers found that dietary factors, other than the total amount of alcohol intake, may affect the degree of alcoholic liver disease development.
They speculated saturated fat in the diet of the standard rodent chow used, and epigenetic changes may have accounted for the lack of liver injury.
Saturated fats may also inhibit the development of alcoholic liver disease by maintaining the growth of intestinal microbiota.
The team says that the critical role of the gut microbiome and fecal metabolites is becoming increasingly appreciated.
Marked differences in the composition of the diets may help explain why mice consuming the highest amounts of alcohol did not develop the most severe liver injury.
Diet and microbiome may be important variables in the different outcomes found in various experimental alcoholic liver disease models.
For more information about liver health, please see recent studies about oral diseases linked to a 75% increase in liver cancer risk, and results showing common beer plants may help treat colon and liver cancer.
The study was conducted by Irina Kirpich et al and published in Alcohol and Alcoholism.
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