Genes associated with `unhealthy` liver function identified

Last Updated: Oct 02, 2013, 15:44 PM IST

Washington: Researchers have identified genes associated with unhealthy liver function.

The study was conducted by Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and done in conjunction with the Geisinger Health System.

The study - Genome-wide analysis identifies loci associated with total bilirubin levels, steatosis, and mild fibrosis in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease - looked at how genomic factors affect the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Lead author Johanna DiStefano, the study's principal investigator, said that these genetic factors could help us identify patients who are most at risk of developing non-alcoholic forms of fatty-liver disease (NAFLD), and which patients may be more likely to progress to severe forms of NAFLD, such as steatohepatitis (NASH).

NAFLD is the build up of extra fat in liver cells, not caused by alcohol. It is one of the most common causes of chronic liver disease. NASH is liver inflammation and damage caused by a buildup of fat in the liver, not caused by alcohol.

The study identified evidence for association with markers in the neurocan gene (NCAN) on chromosome 19p12, and rs2501843 on chromosome 1.

Dr. Glenn S. Gerhard , a faculty member of the Geisinger Obesity Institute and a co-investigator of the study, said that their results showed evidence for new genetic loci that may play a role in the biological mechanisms of NAFLD and NASH.