Ghrelin, a stomach hormone, could offer therapy for fibrosis, has been suggested by Spanish researchers.
In the study, boffins determined that rats treated with recombinant ghrelin displayed a reduction in liver fibrosis. Ghrelin reduced the amount of fibrogenic cells by 25 percent in the treated rodents. Research further showed ghrelin prevented acute liver damage and reduced oxidative stress and inflammation in the animal models.
Details of the study are published in the March issue of Hepatology, a journal of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.
Those living with chronic liver disease are subject to further damage caused by fibrosis, a scaring of the liver that can lead to liver failure and the ultimate need of transplantation.
"Currently, there are no effective anti-fibrotic therapies for patients with liver disease," said Ramsn Bataller, M.D., from the Hospital Clmnic in Barcelona, Spain and lead author of the study. "Our aim was to determine if recombinant ghrelin could regulate the formation of fibrous tissue associated with chronic liver damage."
Ghrelin is a growth hormone that plays a major role in the regulation of appetite and is primarily produced in the stomach. Prior studies have shown that ghrelin also has protective effects in other areas of the body including the pancreas, heart and gastrointestinal tract.
To assess chronic liver disease, the research team induced liver injury and fibrosis in male rats by prolonged bile duct ligation. The animals were separated into groups of 12 animals: group 1 received a saline solution, group 2 the rat recombinant ghrelin, and group 3 the ghrelin receptor agonist. Results showed that liver collagen increased 7-fold compared to control rats.
Analysis revealed those animals treated with ghrelin displayed only mild collagen deposits with a decrease in fibrosis of roughly 40 percent.