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Liver — guardian, modifier and target of sepsis

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Sepsis and septic shock are characterized by life-threatening organ dysfunction caused by a dysregulated host response to infection. The liver has a central role during sepsis, and is essential to the regulation of immune defence during systemic infections by mechanisms such as bacterial clearance, acute-phase protein or cytokine production and metabolic adaptation to inflammation. However, the liver is also a target for sepsis-related injury, including hypoxic hepatitis due to ischaemia and shock, cholestasis due to altered bile metabolism, hepatocellular injury due to drug toxicity or overwhelming inflammation, as well as distinct pathologies such as secondary sclerosing cholangitis in critically ill patients. Hence, hepatic dysfunction substantially impairs the prognosis of sepsis and serves as a powerful independent predictor of mortality in the intensive care unit. Sepsis is particularly problematic in patients with liver cirrhosis (who experience increased bacterial translocation from the gut and impaired microbial defence) as it can trigger acute-on-chronic liver failure — a syndrome with high short-term mortality. Here, we review the importance of the liver as a guardian, modifier and target of sepsis, the factors that contribute to sepsis in patients with liver cirrhosis and new therapeutic strategies.

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Adiposity amplifies the genetic risk of fatty liver disease conferred by multiple loci

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Complex traits arise from the interplay between genetic and environmental factors. The actions of these factors usually appear to be additive, and few compelling examples of gene–environment synergy have been documented. Here we show that adiposity significantly amplifies the effect of three sequence variants (encoding PNPLA3 p.I148M, TM6SF2 p.E167K, and GCKR p.P446L) associated with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Synergy between adiposity and genotype promoted the full spectrum of NAFLD, from steatosis to hepatic inflammation to cirrhosis. We found no evidence of strong interaction between adiposity and sequence variants influencing other adiposity-associated traits. These results indicate that adiposity augments genetic risk of NAFLD at multiple loci that confer susceptibility to hepatic steatosis through diverse metabolic mechanisms.

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Take a coffee or tea break to protect your liver

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Researchers found that drinking coffee and herbal tea may protect against liver fibrosis, estimated as the degree of liver stiffness, which is high in extensive scarring of the liver. Because these beverages are popular, widely available, and inexpensive, they could have the potential to become important in the prevention of advanced liver disease.

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Deaths from liver cancer have DOUBLED since the 80s due to high rates of drinking and hep C among baby boomers

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After the death of rock legend Greg Allman to liver cancer at the age of just 69 years old, 10 years after he was diagnosed with hepatitis C. The new report by the ACS warns the baby boomer’s taste for alcohol, cigarettes and drugs is a key factor that has driven the surge in liver cancer rates, as well as higher obesity and diabetes rates. Among this age group, HCV prevalence is approximately 2.6 percent, a rate times greater than that of other adults.  Alcohol increases liver cancer risk by about 10 percent per drink per day, and tobacco use increases liver cancer risk by approximately 50 percent.

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Drinking coffee daily may halve liver cancer risk

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If you enjoy your morning cup of joe, the results of a recent study will be welcome news. Researchers have found that drinking just one cup of coffee per day could cut the risk of hepatocellular cancer – the most common form of liver cancer. Researchers found that the higher one’s coffee consumption, the lower the risk of hepatocellular cancer (HCC), with up to five cups of coffee each day associated with a 50 percent lower HCC risk.

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Compound in aged cheese may prevent liver cancer, boost longevity

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A new study suggests that there may be a simple way to help reduce the risk of liver cancer and extend lifespan: consume mushrooms, soy, whole grains, aged cheese, and other foods rich in spermidine. Spermidine is a polyamine – a compound that has at least two amino groups – that was originally isolated from sperm, hence its name. Spermidine is also naturally found in a variety of food products, including aged cheese, mushrooms, legumes, soy, whole grains, and corn.

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Statins may provide treatment alternative for chronic liver disease

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Statin drugs are widely used to manage high cholesterol and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. But in a new review of more than 50 studies, researchers cite reductions in liver inflammation and improvements in other related factors as reasons why statins make good candidates for treating chronic liver disease.

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