Saturday, October 30, 2010

Curcumin in Turmeric might Treat Fatty Liver Disease

Dr. Anping Cheng
Credit: Jan Ryerse, Ph.D
Curcumin in the spice turmeric might treat fatty liver disease that affects 30 percent of Americans. The disease can progress to cirrhosis, liver cancer and death. Lab studies from Saint Louis University researchers found curcumin can control leptin levels that play a role in the development of liver disease.

Curcumin Stops Liver Damage in Lab Cells

The study, led by Anping Chen, PhD, corresponding author and director of research in the pathology department of Saint Louis University found curcumin stops the production of fat storing cells in the liver, known as hepatic stellate cells (HSC's).

The researchers hypothesize from the findings that the phytochemical from turmeric could be used to treat fatty liver disease.

The mechanism that stopped abnormal liver cells from growing was from the ability of curcumin to interfere with leptin signals. High levels of the hormone leptin are linked to obesity and type 2 diabetes, and thought to contribute to liver disease.

The authors write, "...we observed that leptin dose dependently reduced levels of intracellular fatty acids and triglycerides in passaged HSCs, which were eliminated by curcumin."

Dr. Chen says "While research in an animal model and human clinical trials are needed, our study suggests that curcumin may be an effective therapy to treat and prevent liver fibrosis, which is associated with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)", also known at fatty liver disease.

Endocrinology, doi:10.1210/en.2010-0191 ◦