Scientists find way to improve liver metabolism

New York, April 17 (IANS) Scientists have found a way to improve liver metabolism for Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) by using an acute dose of an existing diabetes treatment.

In a study, it was observed that a Type-2 diabetes treatment has “off-label” benefits for glucose control in the liver and in fatty cells known as adipose.

NAFLD is a condition in which fat builds up in the liver and in some cases this accumulation of fat can cause inflammation of the liver.

This eventually leads to permanent scarring (cirrhosis), which can seriously impair the liver’s ability to function.

The study showed that exenatide — a treatment that targets the pancreas to improve glucose absorption — enhances glucose uptake and reduces insulin resistance in the liver and in adipose tissue.

“There has been much discussion around the benefit of using injectable diabetes treatments, such as exenatide, on other tissues than the pancreas to improve glucose control,” said lead study author Amailia Gastaldelli from University of Texas Health Science Centre in the US.

“This is why we set out to evaluate the effects of exenatide on the liver and adipose tissue; to better understand the benefits this treatment could offer to a wider group of patients,” Gastaldelli added.

During the study, Exenatide or placebo was injected 30 minutes before an oral glucose test. The test measured glucose uptake in liver tissue and abdominal adipose tissue glucose uptake.

The results showed that acute exenatide administration decreased glucose production and insulin resistance in the liver tissue when blood sugars were low.

The treatment also improved liver tissue uptake of glucose when it is eaten. Furthermore, exenatide decreased insulin resistance in fatty adipose tissue.

“This interesting study shows promising findings for the many people around the world who suffer from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease,” said Tom Hemming Karlsen from the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL).

“The authors have succeeded in identifying an existing treatment that can improve liver metabolism, which is an important step forward for the hepatology community,” Karlsen added.

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