Could Glutamine Protect Against Progression of Fatty Liver Disease?

Glutamine and Fatty Liver DiseaseA recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition supports oral supplementation with L-Glutamine to prevent the progression of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).  NASH is the second state of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and is distinguished by changes due to inflammation that can progress the disease to fibrosis, cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Mice were fed either a Western Style Diet (WSD) which consisted of 60 energy % (E%) from carbohydrates 25 E% from fat and 15 E% from protein or a Control Diet which consisted of 69% of energy (E%) from carbohydrates, 12 E% from fat and 19 E% from protein. Blood and liver tissues were analyzed after eight weeks for some of the mice from both groups.  The rest of the mice in both the WSD group and the control group were further divided.   Some of the mice from both of the original groups received L-Glutamine supplementation at a dose of 2,100 mg per kilogram of body weight.  For an additional 5 weeks the mice were fed as they had been before based on their original grouping (WSD or Control).  Additional blood tests for liver enzymes, glucose tolerance, markers of lipid peroxidation and inflammation and triglycerides were completed.  Liver tissue analysis was examined to assess the progression of liver disease.

After the 8 week mark, mice on the WSD developed NASH with inflammation where the mice fed the WSD and L-Glutamine had markers of inflammation similar to the control group.  L-Glutamine benefits seem to be associated with lower amounts of lipid peroxidation in the liver.

An overconsumption of certain carbohydrates (Fructose) and certain fats in combination with a lack of exercise are considered to contribute to the frequency of this disease.

Future studies are needed to determine if the benefits of oral L-Glutamine extend to humans with NAFLD.




Omega-3 May Help Fight Fatty Liver Disease

Fatty Liver DiseaseAccording to a new pilot study a high dose Omega-3 supplement may improve Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) markers.

This pre-specified sub study of the WELCOME Trial (Wessex Evaluation of Fatty Liver and Cardiovascular markers in NAFLD with Omacor Therapy), a double blinded randomized controlled trial, looked at 16 individuals with NAFLD.  These participants were randomized to receive either 4 grams per day of Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids or a placebo.  Red blood cell counts (RBC) of DHA were taken at the beginning of the study and at the end of the study.  Additionally various parameters of NAFLD, hepatic and whole-body insulin sensitivity, existing liver fat, triglyceride levels, Fatty Acid (FA) oxidation and DNL(de novo lipogenesis), were also assessed.  Significant improvements in hepatic insulin sensitivity (not whole body insulin sensitivity) and liver metabolism were seen in participants whose red blood cell (RBC) DHA levels increased by over 2%.  A 26% reduction in existing liver fat content was also seen although this was not considered statistically significant.

No guidelines were given to the participants to avoid consuming oily fish during the trial period which most likely accounted for one of the placebo group participants showing increased RBC DHA levels over 2%.  Another drawback of the study design was that the primary outcome studied by researchers was the effect of raising RBC DHA on NAFLD markers.  No attempt to determine if EPA levels had any effect on these markers was made.  Future testing might attempt to determine the effect a DHA only oil would have on NAFLD markers.



Curcumin Touted For Metabolic Benefits in People with Fatty Liver Disease

LiverA new study suggests daily supplementation with Curcumin (Turmeric) might improve Body Mass Index (BMI), metabolic status and liver biomarkers in people with Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD).

87 people with grades 1-3 NAFLD (Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease) participated in this randomized controlled clinical study.  The study lasted 8 weeks.  Participants were assigned randomly to receive either a 1,000 mg daily dosage (divided into 2 doses) of Curcumin or a placebo.  Researchers found a statistically significant reduction in BMI, .99 points in the group supplementing with Curcumin compared to .15 points in the group taking the placebo.  Additionally waist circumference decreased by 1.74 for those taking the Curcumin compared to a reduction of .23 in the group supplementing with the placebo.  Also, Ultrasonographic findings were improved in 75% of the participants in the Curcumin group compared to an improvement in 4.5% of the placebo group.  Curcumin was also associated with a reduction in LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, triglycerides, non-high density lipoprotein cholesterol and uric acid levels.

NAFLD is the most common type of chronic liver disorders and affects approximately 30% of the population and between 60 – 70% of individuals who have diabetes or who are obese.

Further studies are needed.