Scientists make a breakthrough in fatty liver disease treatment

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Leptin Unveils Its Hidden Potential

Researchers at MedUni Vienna have uncovered a significant discovery regarding the influence of leptin, a hormone produced by fat cells, on liver fat metabolism in humans.

This breakthrough opens up new possibilities for treating metabolic conditions such as fatty liver disease.

What is Leptin?

Leptin is a hormone secreted by fat cells that primarily acts as a hunger suppressant. Its crucial role is to signal the brain when the body has stored sufficient energy.

However, leptin’s impact extends beyond appetite regulation, encompassing the control of glucose and lipid metabolism.

Led by Thomas Scherer and Matthäus Metz, the research aimed to elucidate the specific mechanisms through which leptin influences liver fat metabolism, particularly those unrelated to its appetite-regulating function.

Leptin’s metabolic effects are mediated through the autonomic nervous system, which governs unconscious bodily functions like digestion and respiration.

This intricate system serves as the conduit between the brain and vital organs, including the liver and adipose tissues.

Previous animal studies had indicated that leptin could reduce liver fat content by facilitating lipid release and inhibiting new lipid production.

However, this phenomenon was contingent on the liver maintaining its connection to the autonomic nervous system, as evidenced by the loss of effect when the vagus nerve, a pivotal component of the system, was severed.

Utilizing human participants, the researchers made several critical discoveries:

  • Administration of metreleptin (a form of leptin) resulted in increased lipid release from the liver and a reduction in liver fat content among healthy, normal-weight men.
  • A naturally occurring procedure that activates the vagus nerve produced a similar effect.
  • In liver transplant recipients, whose livers are devoid of autonomic nervous system connectivity due to the transplantation process, metreleptin failed to enhance lipid secretion.

Implications and Conclusion

This study solidifies the concept that leptin governs liver fat metabolism through the brain and the autonomic nervous system, mirroring observations from animal models.

It suggests that leptin may be inhibiting the development of fatty liver independently of its appetite-suppressing role.

Furthermore, the findings underscore the brain’s capacity to influence liver fat metabolism through the autonomic nervous system.

This groundbreaking revelation opens the door to the development of treatments targeting the central nervous system to combat fatty liver disease, a prevalent global health concern.

The study was published in Cell Metabolism.

If you care about liver health, please read studies about simple habit that could give you a healthy liver, and common diabetes drug that may reverse liver inflammation.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about simple blood test that could detect your risk of fatty liver disease, and results showing this green diet may strongly lower non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

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