A protein could be a boimaker in the blood test for early-stage liver disease

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a condition that affects the liver in the people who do not drink or consume a little alcohol. As the name suggests, NAFLD is characterized by excess storage of fat in liver cells.

In general, there are no obvious symptoms or signs in NAFLD patients, but it finally develops into end-stage hepatocirrhosis. Its diagnosis usually begins after blood tests show higher than normal liver enzyme levels. 
NAFLD is becoming more common worldwide, especially in western countries. It is the most common form of chronic liver disease in the United States, affecting an estimated 80 million to 100 million people.

The liver is a hard-working organ in the human body. It is about 1.4 kilogram, and incessantly works 24 hours a day. The liver acts as a manufacturing hub, producing bile which helps breakdown fat and removes waste from the body; generating proteins that help with blood clotting, oxygen transport, and the immune system; and making cholesterol which is necessary for cell health. And it is also a processing plant and storehouse. It can process hemoglobin and store iron, convert ammonia in the blood into harmless urea excretion, and metabolize drugs and toxins, remove bacteria from the blood. In addition, the liver is able to store and release glucose according to energy needs. In a word, the liver is considerably important to human.

The researchers believe that the long period of undetected liver damage caused by fat deposition may be related to a property of the liver itself, which is highly elastic and able to self-regenerate. While as the damage accumulates, liver function eventually begins to fail.

Currently, liver biopsy is the standard procedure used to diagnose NAFLD, a cumbersome and expensive procedure that can cause complications. Therefore, there is an urgent need for a reliable non-invasive method to detect early NAFLD.

A paper published in the Journal Sub-System Biology reported that a protein may be a biomaker in the blood tests to detect early stages of NAFLD. It showed the possibility to prevent liver cirrhosis.

The researchers analyzed plasma proteomes from the plasma of patients with NAFLD. Using sophisticated mass spectrometry techniques, they discovered a group of proteins that accumulate in the plasma of patients with non-symptomatic NAFLD.

Firstly, they observed that the blood proteome of patients with advanced disease was significantly different from that of healthy controls. Many of the proteins that change in patients' blood have been linked to known aspects of the disease, such as thrombosis, vitamin A and D deficiency, or defective glucose metabolism. These results gave the researchers more motivation to continue exploring. 

Next, they compared the proteome of patients with early NAFLD with that of healthy individuals. Although there were only slight differences, they succeeded in identifying six proteins that were obviously associated with early NAFLD.

And then a particular protein attracts their attention. The protein is called PIGR, which is elevated in the blood of asymptomatic NAFLD patients. The higher the protein concentration, the faster the disease progresses. Therefore, PIGR could be a useful biomarker for detecting liver damage.

Although current blood tests detect liver damage only in the later stages of disease development, this study is an important step in the development of new diagnostic tools to identify NAFLD patients in the earlier pre-symptom stage.

Cite this article

CUSABIO team. A protein could be a boimaker in the blood test for early-stage liver disease . https://www.cusabio.com/c-20860.html


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