According to a recent study by Weill Cornell Medicine and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, frequently using and loving a high-fat and high-sugar diet makes your liver full of harmful fats which can not be reversed even after switching to a healthier mode of your life.
For carrying out the study, published in Science Translational Medicine, the researchers made a nanosensor which can easily detect the buildup content of fat in the liver without harming the organ. This sensor was particularly first used on the livers of mice. The results were compared with the same mice when they were switched back to a healthy life.
As per the results, the fat accumulation in the liver did get decreased after returning back to a healthy diet but there were certain cells which still had the residues of fats for a very long time.
“Going on a short-term unhealthy diet binge is a bad idea,” said senior author Dr. Daniel Heller, an associate professor in the Pharmacology and Physiology, Biophysics and Systems Biology program at the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences.
In America high- fat and high-sugar diet is very common and the USA is the country where the disease called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease – NAFLD has attacked 30% of the total population. In NAFLD patients have built up an excess amount of fat in the liver which in turn leads the patient to many serious complications like inflammation and scarring. It can also cause a certain type of condition called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, liver cancer.
“A biosensor that could detect this type of fat accumulation could accelerate research towards treatments for fatty liver disease and other lipid-linked conditions, and potentially lead to improved diagnostics as well,” says Dr. Heller.
The fat mainly gets accumulated in the lysosomes of Kupffer cells. These are the special type of cells that are designed to collect the residues of all cells and are hence also known as ‘cellular garbage collectors’. These cells are typically founded to cause a disease.
“Fatty liver disease is a growing concern in the clinic and has rapidly become one of the top causes of liver disease in the United States and Europe,” says co-author and hepatologist Dr. Robert Schwartz, an assistant professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine.
“Currently, we have no medical therapies for the fatty liver disease. We tell our patients to eat better and to exercise more, which, as you can imagine, is not very effective.”
Some already existing imaging tools like ultrasound and magnetic resonance help in the diagnosis of the accumulation of fats in the liver. However, they are not able to provide detailed information about the liver.
It is Dr. Heller’s nanosensor which was at first able to diagnose the fat cells in the lysosomes. The sensor is very small and is approximately 1,000 times smaller than the width of a strand of hair. Its body is made up of a single DNA coiled around the single-layered carbon nanotube.
This tiny sensor worked by changing the colors on the detection of fat cells in the lysosomes. These nanosensors when are introduced in mice, the lysosomes of the liver quickly absorbs the nanosensors out of the blood and cause the sensors to glow. According to Dr. Heller, the color of the sensor depicts the amount of fat accumulated in the liver.