Can Stem Cells Mitigate Fatty Liver Disease?

Fatty Liver

Fatty Liver

Increased accumulation of liver fat with subsequent derangements in liver functions are a common finding in patients with excess body fat – hepatic failure caused by non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is now becoming one of the most common indications for liver transplantation.

Now, a study by Nyamandi and colleagues from the University of Calgary, published in OBESITY, suggests that stem cells may reduce oxidative stress and attenuate liver damage in the dietary induced mouse model of obesity.

In this study, the researchers intravenously administered bone-marrow derived stem cells to mice made obese by a high fat diet – regular fed mice served as controls.

While there were no effects on inflammation or glucose metabolism, obese mice showed increased engraftment of stem cells in multiple tissues, including the liver.

This was accompanied by a reduction in hepatic oxidative stress and increased expression of markers (STC1 and UCP2), which may contribute to cell survival and improved mitochondrial function.

As the authors suggest, these intriguing observations should be enough to prompt further study into the potential therapeutic effects of stem cells in the treatment of fatty liver disease.

Edmonton, AB

ResearchBlogging.orgNyamandi VZ, Johnsen VL, Hughey CC, Hittel DS, Khan A, Newell C, & Shearer J (2013). Enhanced stem cell engraftment and modulation of hepatic reactive oxygen species production in diet-induced obesity. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.) PMID: 23894091