Two drugs that are commonly used to treat gout may protect from alcohol-induced liver disease and inflammation, says a new study.
The findings suggest that clinical trials in humans with alcoholic liver disease should be considered.
"This study should ultimately help patients with alcoholic liver disease to prevent or treat acute episodes of alcoholic hepatitis, a potentially lethal condition," said Gyongyi Szabo, researcher at University of Massachusetts.
To make this discovery, Szabo and colleagues used immune cells from human volunteers as well as four groups of mice.
In the human cell experiments, immune cells were isolated and exposed to alcohol-treated human hepatocytes in a test tube.
Results indicated that uric acid and ATP - components released from alcohol-damaged hepatocytes - activated the inflammasome, a component of the innate immune system.
"The link between alcohol induced tissue damage and sensing by the immune system through the inflammasome opens the door for new therapeutics targeting this type of inflammation in liver diseases," explained John Wherry, deputy editor of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology that published the paper.