Study shows soy protein alleviates symptoms of fatty liver disease

April 23, 2012

University of Illinois researchers report this week that new research shows how soy protein could significantly reduce fat accumulation and triglycerides in the livers of obese patients by partially restoring the function of a key signaling pathway in the organ.

Hong Chen, an assistant professor of food science and at the University of Illinois, presented her team's findings Sunday, April 22, at the annual meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, held in conjunction with the 2012 meeting in San Diego.

"Almost a third of American adults have fatty liver disease, many of them without symptoms," Chen explained. "Obesity is a key risk factor for this condition, which can lead to ."

Fat is metabolized in the liver, and in those who are obese the transport of fat to adipose tissue can slow down to the point at which the liver becomes a dumping ground for excess fat, she said.

"When fat accumulates in an organ that's not supposed to store fat — like the liver, that organ's vital function can be dangerously compromised," she noted.

Eating soy protein, from such sources as tofu and yogurt, appears to alleviate some of the stress on fatty livers, Chen said. For her study, Chen compared fat accumulation in the livers of lean and obese rats, which were assigned to either a diet containing casein, a milk-based protein, or a diet containing soy protein, for 17 weeks after weaning.

While diet had no effect on the liver profiles of lean animals, the obese rats that were fed soy showed a 20 percent reduction in triglycerides and overall fat accumulation in the liver, leading Chen to believe that soy protein could be used to alleviate the symptoms of .

Furthermore, the scientists discovered that isolate partially restored the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway, a crucial player in fat metabolism. "In many obese persons, there's a sort of traffic problem, and when more fat can make its way out of the liver, there is less pressure on that organ," Chen said.

Explore further: Resveratrol prevents fat accumulation in livers of 'alcoholic' mice

Related Stories

Secreted protein sends signal that fat is on the way

December 2, 2008

After you eat a burger and fries or other fat-filled meal, a protein produced by the liver may send a signal that fat is on the way, suggests a report in the December issue of the journal Cell Metabolism, a Cell Press publication.

Fat-free diet reduces liver fat in fat-free mice

February 3, 2009

Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have uncovered crucial clues about a paradoxical disease in which patients with no body fat develop many of the health complications usually found in obese people.

Getting to the root of fatty liver disease

April 5, 2011

Researchers have identified a molecular switch that appears to be a common feature in the development of fatty liver disease. The discovery made in mice is consistent with data from human patients, suggesting that it may ...

Recommended for you

Brazilian wasp venom kills cancer cells by opening them up

September 1, 2015

The social wasp Polybia paulista protects itself against predators by producing venom known to contain a powerful cancer-fighting ingredient. A Biophysical Journal study published September 1 reveals exactly how the venom's ...

Water heals a bioplastic

September 1, 2015

A drop of water self-heals a multiphase polymer derived from the genetic code of squid ring teeth, which may someday extend the life of medical implants, fiber-optic cables and other hard to repair in place objects, according ...

Naturally-occurring protein enables slower-melting ice cream

August 31, 2015

(Phys.org)—Scientists have developed a slower-melting ice cream—consider the advantages the next time a hot summer day turns your child's cone with its dream-like mound of orange, vanilla and lemon swirls with chocolate ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.