Fasting can positively influence the metabolism in the liver
Fasting is said to have health-promoting properties in many ways. Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and colleagues from the Helmholtz Center Munich have now found that fasting can also have a positive effect on patients with fatty liver. According to the DKFZ message, they are discovering “new clues as to what happens at the molecular level when we go hungry.”
In collaboration with the German Center for Diabetes Research, the scientists were able to demonstrate that fasting produces a specific protein that affects the metabolism in the liver. This has a significant impact on the accumulation of fat in the organ. The science published their results in the specialist magazine "EMBO Molecular Medicine".
Metabolic diseases a growing problem
According to the researchers, the increasing number of overweight people worldwide has been one of the pressing problems of modern societies for years. "In particular, the metabolic diseases caused by this, such as type 2 diabetes and their complications, can have serious effects," warns the DKFZ. In their current study, the researchers led by Adam J. Rose from the German Cancer Research Center and Stephan Herzig from the Helmholtz Center in Munich have now investigated to what extent a reduced intake of calories could help to bring the metabolism back to shape. "If we understand how fasting affects our metabolism, we could try to achieve this effect therapeutically," Adam Rose explains the research approach.
When hungry, liver cells increasingly produce a special molecule
In their study, the scientists analyzed the effect of fasting on the gene activity of liver cells. "Using so-called transcript arrays, they were able to show that the gene for the GADD45β protein in particular was read differently depending on the diet," reports the DKFZ. If the cells were exposed to a greater “hunger”, they produced more of the molecule mentioned. Its name is derived from the abbreviation of the English "Growth Arrest and DNA Damage-inducible". The name makes it clear that "GADD45β was known until now in connection with the repair of damage to the genetic material and the cell cycle and not from metabolic biology", explains the DKFZ.
GADD45β controls the fatty acid uptake in the liver
In their current experiments, however, the researchers were able to demonstrate that GADD45β is also responsible for controlling the fatty acid uptake in the liver. In mice who lacked the gene, the development of fatty liver was found significantly more often. "But if the GADD45β protein was restored, the fat content in the liver normalized," reports the DKFZ. In addition, the sugar metabolism has improved. The result was also confirmed in humans. "Low levels of GADD45β have been associated with increased fat accumulation in the liver and increased blood sugar," the Cancer Research Center said.
Therapeutic interventions in the metabolism possible?
According to study leader Adam J. Rose, fasting causes stress on the cells of the liver, which stimulates the production of GADD45β and thus "adapts the metabolism to the low food intake." The proven effect can possibly be used to therapeutically reduce fat - and interfere with sugar metabolism. The researchers also hope that the effects of food deprivation may be mimicked by medicinal substances, which would open up additional therapeutic options. (fp)