UCLA: Cholesterol Regulator Associated With Liver Scarring, Cirrhosis

UCLA research suggests a key regulator of cholesterol and fat metabolism in the liver plays an important role in the development of liver fibrosis, which can later develop into cirrhosis, according to a university news release.

The study shows that liver X receptors, which are regulators of cholesterol, fat and inflammatory gene expression, also control the fibrosis-making cells of the liver, known as hepatic stellate cells. In chronic liver injury (due to excess fat, for example), stellate cells become activated and launch an inflammatory and fibrotic cascade that can eventually result in liver fibrosis. Liver X receptors, when stimulated, "turn on" several hundred genes that have been shown to suppress these inflammatory processes.

The researchers noted in an experiment involving mice that after replicating chronic liver injury, mice without liver X receptors had dramatically more liver fibrosis than normal mice.

Read the news release about liver X receptors.

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