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NU Scientists reverse mechanism of fatty liver disease

Researchers have identified the mechanism which causes a build-up of fat in the liver in a disease affecting one in five in the UK – and were able to reverse it in a mouse model.

Researchers from the Newcastle University Institute for Ageing, in collaboration with researchers from the Mayo Clinic, USA, and the Erasmus Medical Centre, in The Netherlands, used pharmacological and genetic approaches to “kill-off” senescent cells from mice, to decrease the build-up of unwanted fat in the liver and restore liver function to normal.

Dr Diana Jurk from Newcastle University’s Institute for Ageing who leads the research team, said: “As we age we accumulate cell damage and we have shown that these older cells are storing excess fat due to their inefficient mitochondria. What is exciting is that we have been able to reverse this damage in mice by removing these older, worn-out cells, which opens the door to a potential cure."

Method

Mikolaj Ogrodnik, PhD student within the Institute for Ageing and lead author on the paper said: “We are witnessing a very exciting time in ageing research. Scientists have realised that senescent cells are the cause of many diseases and we now have a way to fight them off.”

The work has been funded by the BBSRC and Newcastle University's Institute for Ageing.

The team are now intending to further their research by examining how the technique can be developed as a potential clinical treatment.  

Reference: Cellular senescence drives age-dependent hepatic steatosis. Mikolaj Ogrodnik et al.  Nature Communications. Doi: 10.1038/ncomms15691 
Newcastle University Medical School

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