Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) has been emerging worldwide and effective treatment, especially for liver fibrosis, is essential for improving the prognosis. A Japanese research team has identified and clarified the mechanism for a hormone (IGF-I) that limits the fibrosis associated with NASH and cirrhosis. This discovery has potential applications for the treatment of these conditions. These findings were published online on October 10, 2016 in Scientific Reports. The open-access article is titled “IGF-I induces Senescence of Hepatic Stellate cells and Limits Fibrosis in a p53-Dependent Manner.” The research group was led by Associate Professor Yutaka Takahashi (Division of Diabetes and Endocrinology, Department of Internal Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, Kobe University) and medical research fellow Hitoshi Nishizawa(Division of Diabetes and Endocrinology, Kobe University Hospital). NASH is a progression of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in the context of obesity and diabetes, resulting in fatty deposits, inflammation, and fibrosis. In some cases, fibrosis develops into liver cirrhosis or liver cancer, shortening life expectancy. NAFLD is closely associated with metabolic syndrome, and cases of NASH are increasing along with obesity and diabetes – an estimated three to four million patients in Japan currently suffer from NASH. It is becoming a serious public health issue. Liver fibrosis (including its manifestation in liver cirrhosis) is strongly associated with increased mortality, so the development of drugs to control fibrosis is a pressing issue. However, current medicines only have limited effectiveness.
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