UofL liver researchers discover protein markers that could lead to new biomarkers and treatments in alcohol-associated liver diseases
A team of UofL researchers, including Drs. Irina Kirpich Josiah Hardesty, Dennis Warner, and Craig McClain and graduate student Jeffrey Warner, along with colleagues at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, has discovered four significant alterations in proteins involved in alcohol-associated hepatitis (AH) and alcohol-associated cirrhosis (AC), common forms of alcohol-associated liver disease (ALD) that have poor prognosis and for which standard treatments offer limited effectiveness. Identification of these changes may present opportunities for new avenues for treatment of these conditions. ALD contributes to more than 500,000 deaths worldwide annually. AH and AC have a particularly poor prognosis and few treatment options. Dr. Kirpich is a past project PI (mentee) on the Hepatobiology & Toxicology COBRE.
The researchers analyzed liver tissues and liver biopsies from AH and AC patients and discovered the protein alterations associated with biological processes involved in liver disease and corresponding to the severity of AH. These processes involve liver fibrosis, low albumin levels, white blood cell function and production of cardiolipin. These alterations may be adapted to serve as biomarkers to diagnose these conditions and assess the level of severity of ALD as well as being used as targets to develop new treatments. The study results were published in the July issue of The American Journal of Pathology and in a press release.