How Excessive Sugar Consumption Causes Fatty Liver Disease, Health News, ET HealthWorld
NAFLD is a condition in which excess fat is deposited in the liver. The disease begins silently, with no noticeable symptoms for up to two decades. If left untreated, the excess fat can irritate liver cells, causing scarring of the liver (cirrhosis), and in advanced cases, can even lead to liver cancer. Treatment of advanced stages of NAFLD is difficult.
One of the causes of NAFLD is the overconsumption of sugar, both table sugar (sucrose) and other forms of carbohydrates. Consuming excess sugar and carbohydrates causes the liver to convert them to fat in a process called De Novo liver lipogenesis, or DNL, ââwhich leads to a build-up of fat in the liver.
The molecular mechanisms that increase hepatic DNL due to overconsumption of sugar, which is key to developing therapies for NAFLD, are not yet clear, said senior scientist Prosenjit Mondal, associate professor, School of Basic Sciences, IIT Mandi.
The team used a complementary experimental approach involving mouse models and identified the unknown link between carbohydrate-induced activation of a protein complex called NF-KB and increased DNL.
“Our data indicate that the hepatic NF-KB p65 sugar-mediated shuttle reduces the levels of another protein, witch, which in turn activates the liver’s DNL through a biochemical cascade,” Mondal explained. The results are published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
The team showed that drugs that can inhibit NF-KB can prevent the build-up of sugar-induced liver fat. They also showed that the witch knockdown reduced the lipid-lowering capacity of the NF-KB inhibitor.
The discovery that NF-KB plays a key role in the accumulation of lipids in the liver opens a new therapeutic avenue for NAFLD. NF-KB also plays a role in other diseases involving inflammation, such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, atherosclerosis, IBS, stroke, muscle wasting, and infections.
The research comes at a time when India has included NAFLD in the National Program for the Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke (NPCDCS).
India is the first country in the world to recognize the need to act on NAFLD and with good reason. The prevalence of NAFLD in India is around 9% to 32% of the population, with the state of Kerala alone having a prevalence of 49% and a staggering 60% prevalence among obese children in school.
The study conclusively showed that too much sugar consumption leads to fatty liver disease. This should prompt the public to cut back on their sugar intake to stop NAFLD in its infancy, the team said.