Study Identifies Potential Target to Reduce Liver Damage, Prevent Cancer

SEPTEMBER 17, 2018
Jennifer Barrett, Associate Editor
Researchers have identified a potential point of intervention that could prevent the progression of liver damage to cancer, according to a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
 
A triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells-1, also known as TREM-1, activates inflammation short-term following an insult, such as a laceration, or in response to external invaders, such as bacteria. However, for the first time, researchers have found that, when activated by chronic offending agents such as hepatitis and obesity, TREM-1 can contribute to a destructive level of inflammation that results in liver damage and possibly cancer.
 
According to the researchers, this transformation can occur in 5 to 50 years, and could be reversible up to the point of cirrhosis if the offending agent is stopped. The findings suggest that potentially targeting this receptor on Kupffer cells, the liver’s resident macrophages, could return TREM-1 activation to normal levels to reduce damage.
 
“Right now we have a treatment for hepatitis C, for example, which is very efficient, if we treat it before too much damage is done,” study author Anatolij Horuzsko, PhD, reproductive immunologist in the Georgia Cancer Center and Department of Medicine at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University, said in a prepared statement. “But we don’t have treatment for alcohol- or obesity-related damage.”

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