Diseased metabolic organ: fatty liver under stress
Improper eating habits and other risk factors make the liver sick. A high-calorie, high-fat and high-sugar diet can add to the organ as well as larger amounts of alcohol. On the other hand, fasting can quickly break down fatty liver. German researchers are now investigating how pathological processes burden our body's detoxification center.
Every third German has a fatty liver
Improper eating habits and other risk factors such as high alcohol consumption can make the liver sick. The metabolic organ becomes fatty and can ignite. According to health experts, more than a third of Germans have fatty liver. However, many do not know about it at first because the liver suffers dangerously quietly. In the long run, irreversible and life-threatening organ damage threatens. German researchers are now investigating how obesity and inflammation weaken the body's detoxification center.
Illness often remains undetected for a long time
Because the disease of the organ usually remains undetected for a long time, chronic liver inflammation can develop unnoticed due to fatty liver.
This can result in liver cirrhosis ("shrink liver") or even liver cancer after many years.
Experts from the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) in Berlin have now used liver cells in the Petri dish to examine how fat and inflammation weaken the body's detoxification center.
"The results show that inflammation in particular blocks the work of important liver cell enzymes," explains Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel, President of BfR, in a communication.
"This means that the liver can only perform its task of detoxifying foreign substances ingested with food to a limited extent."
New knowledge gained
So far, it has not been fully understood how a fatty and inflamed liver affects its ability to recognize and break down foreign substances such as chemicals or drugs.
In collaboration with the Dr. Margarete Fischer-Bosch Institute for Clinical Pharmacology in Stuttgart, the BfR researchers treated human liver cells with fatty acids, inflammation-promoting substances and foreign substances.
In this way, they simulated the conditions in the liver and recorded how the cells reacted to them.
The main result: While mere fatty tissue in the liver cell did not yet have far-reaching consequences for detoxification, that changed when inflammation was caused, as the scientists report in the journal "Drug Metabolism and Disposition".
The ability to render foreign substances harmless is therefore likely to be significantly reduced in the case of inflammation caused by fatty liver. (ad)