A recent study from Massachusetts General Hospital and elsewhere found growth hormone improves liver health in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) by reducing liver fat and inflammation.
Two risk factors for NAFLD, obesity and diabetes, are becoming more prevalent. NAFLD is present in 25% of people worldwide, and up to 80% of those with obesity in the United States.
Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is the progressive form of NAFLD. NASH is characterized by liver inflammation and liver cell damage and is often accompanied by liver fibrosis.
NASH with severe fibrosis can lead to cirrhosis or liver failure. NASH-cirrhosis is one of the leading causes of liver transplants in the United States.
In the study, the team chose to study growth hormone in NAFLD because administering growth hormone is known to reduce body fat and inflammation.
Higher body weight is associated with relatively lower growth hormone levels and higher rates of NAFLD and NASH.
They wanted to find out whether growth hormone administration in otherwise healthy adults with overweight/obesity and NAFLD would improve liver fat, inflammation and fibrosis.
The researchers studied 41 participants who were given either growth hormone or a placebo for 6 months in a randomized, double-blind study.
They found liver fat and a combined measure of liver inflammation and fibrosis, both measured by MRI, improved in the growth hormone group compared with the placebo group.
The team found liver function tests and markers of inflammation also improved. Growth hormone was well tolerated and there were no safety concerns.
This research brings scientists a step closer to understanding how our own hormones impact NAFLD.
These findings show that increasing the body’s growth hormone level can improve liver health in patients with NAFLD.
The study was conducted by Laura Dichtel et al.
If you care about liver health, please read studies about dairy foods linked to liver cancer, and coffee drinkers may halve their risk of liver cancer.
For more information about liver health, please see recent studies that green tea extract could harm liver health in some people, and results showing the Mediterranean diet could cut fatty liver disease by half.
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