NAFLD, which stands for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, belongs to the group of liver diseases which is notoriously widespread. It affects 80-100 million people all over the world, including children. As its name suggests, you don’t have to abuse alcohol to suffer from this disease: you can drink no alcohol at all but still develop NAFLD.
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American researchers have recently discovered that the condition can be inheritable, thus contributing to our knowledge of what biological mechanisms lie behind the issue. Besides, NAFLD appears to affect the risk of cardiovascular diseases among men and women differently.
Inheritability Offers New Ways for Treatment Development
The American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases has recently presented a new research at the organization meeting. According to it, serum metabolites, which are associated with NAFLD, can be heritable. This special kind of fatty liver disease is also known for having a shared genetic risk factor which is also characteristic of metabolic syndrome that can imply high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, abnormal blood sugar, etc., and can cause diabetes, cardiovascular diseases or other serious conditions. Serum metabolites were used by the investigators to find out what molecular pathways and metabolic reactions were altered due to the disease. Having examined the liver condition of 156 people from South California, analyzed their serum samples, and used MRI, the researchers made an attempt to determine whether the serum metabolites were hereditary in the enrolled twins, siblings and child/parent couples, and whether the shared gene effect that would relate NAFLD and serum metabolites could be seen. After the assessment, the investigators discovered that certain serum metabolites appeared to be hereditary, and phenyllactate, which is one of the metabolites in question, proved to manifest a shared gene effect.
The new information which the study provided can help develop new kinds of treatment and enhance the existing ones, because the metabolite can be used as a target. Besides, it can be a biomarker which can help assess the severity of the disease.
Women Are More Likely to Develop Cardiovascular Diseases if Already Suffering from NAFLD
Another finding related to NAFLD is that the disease can shift the way men and women are put at risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. A recent study led by the Mayo Clinic’s Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology showed that women with NAFLD have a significantly higher risk of suffering from heart failure, irregular/rapid heartbeat, stroke, heart pain and other issues of this kind than men with NAFLD. Contrary to the idea that women are less prone to cardiovascular diseases than men just because they are women, this principle seems to be violated by NAFLD, which makes it work in a reversed manner. The study, which had been following almost 19,000 people for 20 years, showed that women may require more aggressive preventative care, as the chances ladies suffering from NAFLD will develop a cardiovascular disease are considered to be quite high.
The fact that nonalcoholic fatty liver disease can be hereditary and lead to subsequent serious issues (besides being dangerous itself) makes researchers urge people not to miss health exams and revise their lifestyles, because exercise, healthy eating and other aspects of healthy living can help you feel better.