APR 08, 2022 9:29 AM PDT

Puberty-triggering Hormone Reverses Fatty Liver Disease in Mice

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Kisspeptin, a hormone that triggers puberty and regulates fertility in humans, may be able to treat non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The corresponding study was published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common liver disease worldwide. Its prevalence has risen alongside that of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. It usually begins with no symptoms however, over time, leads to inflammation resulting in non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). 

Fibrosis and cirrhosis then ensue until the liver becomes scarred and irreversibly damaged. Some with the condition develop liver cancer. Currently, no treatments have been approved to treat the condition. In the present study, researchers investigated the potential for kisspeptin to treat the condition.

To do so, they fed mice a high-fat, high-sugar diet to induce obesity and NAFLD. Those given the hormone, they noted, had less fat deposited in the liver, and were protected from developing NASH and fibrosis. The hormone also reversed more advanced stages of the disease. 

To understand how the hormone works, the researchers conducted another experiment in which they deleted the gene KISS1R, which encodes for kisspeptin, from liver cells. Afterward, they noticed that these cells no longer responded to kisspeptin and that mice fed a high-sugar, high-fat diet went on to develop fatty liver. 

"This work shows the kisspeptin receptor signaling pathway has a potential therapeutic role in NAFLD," said co-author of the study, Vinod K Rustgi, Director of Hepatology and a Distinguished Professor of Medicine at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. 

"It does this by protecting against the development of fat in the liver and reducing inflammation and fibrosis. As such, it has the potential to favorably impact the health and lives of millions of patients around the globe,” he added. 


Sources: Science DailyThe Journal of Clinical Investigation

About the Author
Annie Lennon is a writer whose work also appears in Medical News Today, Psych Central, Psychology Today, and other outlets. When she's not writing, she is COO of Xeurix, an HR startup that assesses jobfit from gamified workplace simulations.
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