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High fat and high sugar diet causes steatohepatitis

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Wednesday July 17, 2013 (foodconsumer.org) -- A new study in Hepatology confirms prior research that suggests eating a high fat high sugar diet can induce liver diseases such as steatohepatitis.

T. Ishimoto from Division of Renal Diseases and Hypertension, University of Colorado Denver in Aurora, CO, USA and colleagues conducted the study and found the detrimental effect of a high fat and high sugar diet depends on the presence of fructokinase, an enzyme that plays a key role in fructose metabolism.  This finding indicates that fructose has something to do with the hepatopathogenesis.

For the current study, both wild type mice and mice with fructokinase knocked out were fed one of the three diets a low fat (11%), or a high fat (36%) or a high fat (36%) and high sucrose (30%) diet for a period of 15 weeks.

Both wild type and fructokinase knockout mice developed obesity with mild hepatic steatosis.   In addition, wild type mice fed the high fat and high sucrose diet ended up developing more severe hepatic steatosis, a type of liver disease, with low grade inflammation and fibrosis, compared with the mice without fructokinase.

Some changes were observed in wild mice fed the high fat and high sucrose diet including "increased CD68, TNF-alpha, MCP-1, alpha-smooth muscle actin, and collagen I and TIMP1 expression." These changes, according to the study report, were not seen in the mice with fructokinase knocked out. 

The researchers concluded "An additive effect of high fat and high sucrose diet on the development of hepatic steatosis exists. Further, the combination of sucrose with high fat diet may induce steatohepatitis."

"The protection in fructokinase knockout mice suggests a key role for fructose (from sucrose) in this development of steatohepatitis. These studies emphasize the important role of fructose in the development of fatty liver and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis."

Prior research has shown intake of fructose, which is found high in high fructose corn syrup and sucrose, has been recognized as a cause of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. (Reporting by David Liu, PHD)

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