Publicador de contenidos

Back to 2014_06_11_CIMA_Un gen protector de la función del hígado

A protective gene for liver function

Researchers at CIMA of the University of Navarra identify a gene that could improve the treatment of patients with chronic liver damage.

Image description
María Elizalde, Matías Ávila and Carmen Berasain, researchers at CIMA of the University of Navarra. PHOTO:
11/06/14 13:09 Mª Pilar Huarte

Scientists from the research center Applied Medicine (CIMA) at the University of Navarra have identified a gene, called SLU7, that improves liver function. The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, suggests that this gene could improve the treatment of patients with chronic liver damage.

The liver, a highly specialized organ, performs multiple vital functions for the organism: it participates in the digestion of food, serves as a filter eliminating toxic products from the blood, stores vitamins, proteins and sugars necessary for the correct functioning of the rest of the organs and regulates cholesterol and glucose levels in the blood, among others.

Liver function fails in pathological situations such as hepatitis B and C virus infections, excessive alcohol consumption or metabolic disorders such as diabetes or obesity (the epidemic of the 21st century). This loss of function is due to the death of hepatocytes (the liver cells) and the expression of genes characteristic of these cells being turned off. "Liver malfunction is a risk factor for the development of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes and can evolve to the development of cirrhosis and liver cancer, diseases with a high mortality rate," explains María Elizalde, lead author of work, which constitutes her doctoral thesis .

Researchers at CIMA have identified that the SLU7 gene is manager of the maintenance of liver function. "SLU7 regulates the expression and function of many of the characteristic genes of the liver and proper glucose metabolism altered in diabetes. The expression of this gene is inhibited in the diseased liver and its restitution is presented as a promising therapeutic strategy to recover liver function in situations of chronic damage," say Dr. Matías Ávila and Dr. Carmen Berasain, directors of work.