Scientists develop new compound that reverses fatty liver disease

December 19, 2012

(—Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have developed the first synthetic compound that can reverse the effects of a serious metabolic condition known as fatty liver disease. True to its name, the disease involves an abnormal buildup of fat in the liver.

The compound—known as SR9238—is the first to effectively suppress lipid or fat production in the liver, eliminating inflammation and reversing fat accumulation in animal models of . The new compound also significantly lowered total , although precisely how that occurred remains something of a mystery.

"We've been working on a pair of natural proteins called LXRα and LXRβ that stimulate fat production in the liver, and we thought our compound might be able to successfully suppress this process," said Thomas Burris, a professor at TSRI who led the study, which was recent published in an online edition of the journal ACS . "Once the animals were put on the drug, we were able to reverse the disease after a single month with no adverse side effects—while they ate a high-fat diet."

Fatty liver, which often accompanies obesity and type 2 diabetes, frequently leads to more serious conditions including cirrhosis and . The condition affects some 10 to 24 percent of the general population, according to a 2003 study in GUT, an international journal of gastroenterology and hepatology.

Burris and his colleagues designed SR9238 so that it would be quickly metabolized in the liver to minimize migration of the drug into the bloodstream, which could lead to side effects.

In the study, mice were fed a high-fat diet for 14 weeks prior to treatment with SR9238. After one month of treatment, the scientists found that the liver's fat-producing genes were repressed and fat expression in the liver was reduced up to 90 percent.

In addition, the scientists observed an 80 percent reduction of the enzyme responsible for producing cholesterol (3-Hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A Reductase)—the same enzyme targeted by statins.

Markers for liver damage were down as well, which suggests the compound may also have the potential to treat alcohol-related fatty liver damage.

Explore further: Cannabinoid-blocking weight-loss drug might fight alcoholic fatty liver

More information: "A Liver Selective LXR Inverse Agonist that Suppresses Hepatic Steatosis"

Related Stories

Fatty liver disease can lead to heart attack

April 19, 2011

Because of the prevalence of obesity in our country, many Americans are expected to develop a serious condition called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which can lead to cirrhosis, fibrosis, and in some cases liver ...

Recommended for you

A new form of real gold, almost as light as air

November 25, 2015

Researchers at ETH Zurich have created a new type of foam made of real gold. It is the lightest form ever produced of the precious metal: a thousand times lighter than its conventional form and yet it is nearly impossible ...

New 'self-healing' gel makes electronics more flexible

November 25, 2015

Researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a first-of-its-kind self-healing gel that repairs and connects electronic circuits, creating opportunities to advance the ...

Getting under the skin of a medieval mystery

November 23, 2015

A simple PVC eraser has helped an international team of scientists led by bioarchaeologists at the University of York to resolve the mystery surrounding the tissue-thin parchment used by medieval scribes to produce the first ...

Atom-sized craters make a catalyst much more active

November 24, 2015

Bombarding and stretching an important industrial catalyst opens up tiny holes on its surface where atoms can attach and react, greatly increasing its activity as a promoter of chemical reactions, according to a study by ...


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.