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Curcumin may help with protection against liver fibrosis.
Researchers at Saint Louis University School of Medicine in Missouri report in the September, 2010 issue of the journal Endocrinology that curcumin, a phytochemical found in the spice turmeric, may help protect the liver from nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, a condition associated with weight gain that can lead to liver fibrosis, cirrhosis of the liver, and, in some cases, liver cancer.
Youcai Tang of Zhengzhou University in Henan, China and Anping Chen, PhD, who is the director of research at Saint Louis University's department of pathology, recently reported that leptin stimulates liver stellate cell activation, contributing to liver fibrosis. Leptin, a hormone which increases during obesity and diabetes, controls food intake and energy expenditure.
Drs Chen and Tang's current research found that curcumin eliminated the leptin's effect of reducing intracellular fatty acids and triglycerides that occurs during fibrosis in hepatic stellate cells. "The phytochemical abrogated the impact of leptin on inhibiting the activity of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) in HSCs in vitro," the authors write. "The activation of AMPK resulted in inducing expression of genes relevant to lipid accumulation and increasing intracellular lipids in hepatic stellate cells in vitro."
"Leptin plays a critical role in the development of liver fibrosis," Dr Chen explained. "My laboratory studies the molecular mechanism of liver fibrosis and is searching for natural ways to prevent and treat this liver damage. 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)