Great news comes from Singapore for those suffering from fatty liver. Well, in addition to understanding the causes that can determine the evolution of fatty liver into steatohepatitis, a condition that causes inflammation, scarring and death of liver tissues, scientists have also found a way to block this evolution and regenerate the liver, the intake of vitamin B12 and folic acid! This emerges from a very recent research appeared in the Journal of Hepatology (Tripathi et al, Journal of Hepatology, Jul 2022).
Fatty liver, treatments and possible risks
Non-alcoholic fatty liver is a condition that affects 25% of the global population. Nonalcoholic fatty liver consists of the accumulation of fat in the liver in people who do not drink or drink little alcohol but who may have obesity or type 2 diabetes. Fatty liver can develop into a real inflammation of the liver, in which the tissues are scarred and die. This condition is called steatohepatitis and in turn increases the risk of cirrhosis and liver cancer. At present there are no treatments for steatohepatitis, also because the exact causes were not known, at least until the research we are talking about today. On the other hand, fatty liver is reversible in the early stages. Singapore scientists have been able to understand the mechanism that leads to the evolution of the fatty liver into liver inflammation with tissue death and also what can help reverse this evolution. But let's understand better.
What causes fatty liver and a possible cure, the study
Scientists have been able to understand that elevated blood levels of homocysteine, an amino acid, are associated with an increased risk of fatty liver evolution into steatohepatitis. This is because homocysteine attaches itself to various proteins in the liver, changing its structure and inhibiting its functionality. In particular, when homocysteine attaches itself to the syntaxin 17 protein, it prevents its action. This protein is involved in the transport and digestion of fats, but also in the prevention of inflammation and in the replacement of damaged cells. From here we understand that blocking the syntaxin 17 protein opens the doors to steatohepatitis. Instead, as shown by the research, the intake of vitamin B12 and folic acid increases the levels of syntaxin 17 in the liver and restores its action, preventing or at least slowing down a possible evolution of the fatty liver and reversing the inflammation process.
Therefore, the research brings out two very important results. The first is that homocysteine levels can be used as indicators for a possible evolution of the fatty liver into more severe forms. The second is that the integration of vitamin B12 and folic acid, a very inexpensive treatment, can represent a very powerful help for those suffering from fatty liver, helping to prevent or delay its evolution in steatohepatitis. In any case, if you intend to follow a treatment with vitamin B12 and folic acid supplements, ask your doctor for advice. Then, these vitamins can also be found in diet. Vitamin B12 is found in meat, eggs, especially in yolk, milk, fish and shellfish, but also in fortified cereals and some algae, such as nori seaweed. Folate is found in green leafy vegetables, legumes, eggs and citrus fruits.