Fatty liver is a reversible condition caused by the accumulation of fat on the cells of the liver. While there could be multiple reasons for the occurrence of such a condition, the most common reason is alcohol consumption. The liver is one of the largest organs of the body and is responsible of metabolism of the food consumed. It is also responsible for filtering the waste products from the blood. The liver has the capacity to regrow, however, a continuous buildup of fatty cells causes scarring on its surface, which eventually results in a life-threatening condition called liver cirrhosis.
Unfortunately, in most instances, the signs of liver damage are generally not apparent until it is too late. A 2017 study by researchers from a Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) revealed that enzyme treatment can help in preventing or reducing alcohol-related liver damage. The study performed on fatty cells in mice with a binge drinking or a chronic alcohol consumption pattern focused on the enzyme present in the gastrointestinal tract, which prevents the passage of gastrointestinal toxins from passing into the blood stream. According to the researchers, the study will help mitigate the damage caused by excessive alcohol consumption.
Consequences of damage to intestinal lining by alcohol abuse
In the study published in the journal Digestive Diseases and Sciences, the researchers gave oral doses of intestinal alkaline phosphatase (IAP), an enzyme associated with liver damage, to mice with binge drinking and chronic alcohol consumption patterns. One of the most prominent functions of IAP is to maintain a healthy gut barrier by preventing the passage of toxic molecules. The study explored the possibilities of using this gut barrier for barricading damage to the liver.
According to Richard Hodin, MD, of the Massachusetts General Hospital, Department of Surgery, and the study’s senior author, the damage caused by excessive alcohol consumption on the gastrointestinal tract is happens in two ways:
- Direct impact of toxins on the liver and the resulting fatty cell buildup.
- Damage to the intestinal lining of the liver, which are no longer able to block the toxins.
The study is estimated to have far-reaching impact, especially since alcoholic hepatitis, liver cancer and cirrhosis are extremely debilitating conditions, which not only result in lost productivity but also reduce the overall quality of life.
During the course of the study, mice exhibiting chronic alcohol consumption were given either one large dose or three large doses of IAP at an interval of 12 hours. It was observed that mice that had been fed with IAP had reduced levels of ALT enzyme. Also, there was lesser deposition of fat on the liver cells in these animals. On the other hand, mice that did not receive IAP had higher amounts of lipopolysaccharide (LPS), which is responsible for causing fatty liver. These mice also had elevated levels of intestinal inflammation. Another important revelation was that pretreatment using IAP prevented the activation of hepatic sellate cells. However, when IAP was administered after alcohol consumption, it offered no protection to the liver.
According to co-author Michael Choi, MD, of the MGH Gastrointestinal Unit, “Hepatic stellate cells are considered to be the central player in causing liver fibrosis — scarring or cirrhosis — which is the common endpoint leading to death in most liver diseases.”
Fight against alcohol abuse
Alcohol addiction is a major problem in the United States, responsible for thousands of deaths every year – directly or indirectly. At the same time, millions of people have to deal with the physical and emotional abuse associated with drinking.
However, alcoholism is not a character flaw but a disorder that requires proper counseling, psychological support and medication to overcome. It is not easy for the users to leave behind the habit of alcohol. If you or someone you love is addicted to alcohol, connect with the Alcohol Addiction Helpline of California to access the best inpatient alcohol rehab centers in California. You can call our 24/7 helpline number 855-980-1715 or chat online with our experts to get details of the finest alcohol addiction treatment centers in California.Continue reading