A new non-invasive method of predicting the risk of developing severe liver disease in the form of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) could make certain that patients will acquire early and probably life-saving health interventions before irreversible liver injury is done.
Using data from a liver biopsy study, researchers at Cardiff University have developed a new approach of finding out the onset of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) by means of the evaluation of lipids, metabolites and clinical markers in blood.
NASH is the most extreme form of non-alcoholic fatty liver ailment (NAFLD), which is in turn a variety of conditions brought about by the accumulation of fats in the liver. With NASH, inflammation of the liver damages the cells, probably leading to scarring and cirrhosis.
Presently, the diagnosis of NASH can be done with a liver biopsy, which is an invasive and high-priced approach. The new study might lead to a simple blood test that might capture the onset of NASH earlier than inflammation damages the liver.
According to Dr You Zhou from Cardiff University’s Systems Immunity Research Institute, “Many people with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis do not have symptoms and are not aware they are developing a serious liver problem. As such, diagnosis often comes after irreversible damage is done. Our quicker and less invasive method of diagnosis could mean that more people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease could be easily tested to determine whether they are progressing to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, the more severe form of the disease.”
Liver Fatty Changes
Healthy livers contain little or no fats. It can be estimated that around 20% of people in the UK have early stages of NAFLD where there are small quantities of fats of their liver. NASH is estimated to have an effect on as much as 5% of the UK population and is now viewed to be one of the crucial reasons of cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is the medical condition that enables irregular bumps to replace the delicate liver tissue, making the liver harder and thus reducing the amount of healthy cells to carry out normal functioning. It will soon result in complete liver failure.
Usual risk factors for each NAFLD and NASH are weight problems, lack of exercise and insulin resistance. Yet, when detected and managed at an early stage, it may be possible to stop both NAFLD and NASH from getting worse.
The new procedure of NASH diagnosis will further undergo investigation which will lead to establishing a simple blood test that can be utilized by clinicians to give effective treatment to sufferers at high risk for the disease.
The results of this study, “Noninvasive Detection of Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis Using Clinical Markers and Circulating Levels of Lipids and Metabolites” are available in the Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.
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