A team of researchers at the Indian Institute of technology (IIT), Mandi has unraveled the mechanism by which lead salts may cause fatty liver disease, reports Tribune India.
The development is significant as the outcome of the research could pave the way for development of drugs to cure the fatty liver disease. According to the researchers, it is estimated that nine to 32 per cent of the entire Indian population suffers from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
“While the connection between lead and fatty liver disease has been known for a while, the actual mechanism by which lead worsens this condition has hitherto remained unknown,” said Prosenjit Mondal who is an Assistant Professor at IIT Mandi.
NAFLD is a dangerous epidemic in which excessive fats accumulate in the liver. The disease belongs to metabolic group of diseases which includes obesity and diabetes.
These diseases are commonly caused by poor regulation of De novo lipogenesis (DNL), a complex process in which carbohydrates circulating in the blood are converted into fat. The poor regulation of DNL results in abnormal production of fat, which settles in the liver and other internal organs as visceral fat.
Researchers found that the lead (Pb2+) metal can lead to poor regulation of fat formation and deposition in the liver. Lead suppresses the activity of biomolecule sorcin, which regulates the Carbohydrate Responsive Element Binding Protein (ChREBP), and over activates the ChREBP. This leads to triggering of regulatory enzyme fatty acid synthase resulting in increase in fat production in liver, leading to NAFLD.
According to the researchers, lead toxicity is a serious concern in India and the use of lead containing paints, pesticides, packaging and even beer contributes towards high exposure of Indians to this toxic metal and its salts.
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