Fatty liver disease refers to accumulation of fat in the liver cells of patients. Researchers have identified a genetic variant that can been linked with an increased risk of fatty liver disease in obese youth. However, the researchers observed that children with the variant tend to have lower total and LDL cholesterol levels.
The gene variant analyzed in this study lies within the gene that codes for the transmembrane 6 superfamily member 2 (TM6SF2) protein, which helps regulate the liver's metabolism of fat.
‘A genetic variant that codes for the transmembrane 6 superfamily member 2 (TM6SF2) protein has been linked with an increased risk of fatty liver disease in obese youth. The TM6SF2 protein helps regulate the liver's metabolism of fat, and predisposes obese kids to accumulate hepatic fat.’
The study findings may help investigators develop new ways to prevent or treat liver damage in patients with fatty liver disease and to ameliorate heart problems in obese children and adolescents.
Dr. Nicola Santoro, senior author of the study, said, "The effect of the studied TM6SF2 gene variant on human metabolism is quite fascinating as it predisposes obese kids to accumulate hepatic fat, but at the same time it seems to protect them from cardiovascular complications. I think the future of this protein might be in the prevention and therapy of cardiovascular diseases."
The study is published in Hepatology