Can we protect ourselves against fatty liver diseases through indole?
A natural compound contained in many well-known and widespread vegetables seems to be suitable according to a recent study to combat fatty liver diseases.
Texas A&M AgriLife Research's latest research found that a natural compound from vegetables called indole can fight fatty liver disease. The results of the study were published in the English language journal "Hepatology".
Indole against non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) can be combated by indole, a natural compound found in intestinal bacteria and cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, kale, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. The current study also looked at how this natural compound can lead to new treatments or preventive measures for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
How can we prevent NAFLD?
Based on this research, the team believes that healthy, high-capacity foods for indole production are essential to prevent NAFLD and improve the health of those affected. This is another example where changing your diet can help improve well-being and prevent or treat disease.
What is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease?
NAFLD refers to increased fat infiltration in the liver in people who drink little or no alcohol. This can happen, for example, due to an unhealthy diet, such as excessive intake of saturated fats. If this condition is not treated properly, it can lead to life-threatening liver diseases such as liver cancer and cirrhosis.
Obesity massively favors NAFLD
Many different factors contribute to NAFLD. Fatty liver is seven to ten times more common in people with obesity than in the general population. In addition, obesity causes inflammation in the body. The cause of this inflammation is macrophages, types of white blood cells that usually fight infection. Such inflammation exacerbates liver damage in people with liver disease.
Influence of intestinal bacteria
Gut bacteria can also have a positive or negative effect on the progression of fatty liver disease. These bacteria produce many different compounds, one of which is indole. According to the study, this product of the amino acid tryptophan is likely to have a preventive and therapeutic effect for people with NAFLD or an increased risk of fatty liver.
What was examined?
The present study examined the effect of indole concentrations on humans, animal models and single cells to determine the effect of indole on liver inflammation and its potential benefits for people with NAFLD. How indole can alleviate non-alcoholic fatty liver disease was investigated. Previous findings on intestinal bacteria, intestinal inflammation and liver inflammation were also taken into account.
What influence did the BMI have?
With 137 participants, the research group found that people with a higher body mass index (BMI) tended to have lower indole levels in their blood. In addition, the indole values in clinically obese people were significantly lower than in thin people. The amount of fat deposits in the liver was also higher in people with a lower indole level.
Further tests were carried out
To further determine the effects of indole, the team used animal models that were fed high-fat foods to simulate the effects of NAFLD. In addition, there was a control group, which ate low-fat food.
Treatment with indole led to success
Comparisons of animal models fed low-fat and high-fat foods provided a better understanding of the importance of indole for NAFLD. It was shown that in the animals with fatty liver both the fat accumulation and the inflammation in the liver were reduced by the treatment with indole.
More research is needed
Indole not only reduced the amount of fat in the liver cells, but also acted on the cells in the intestine that send out molecular signals that reduce inflammation. The connection between the intestine and the liver complicates studies on non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases. Future studies are urgently needed to fully understand the role of indole.
Prospects for new therapies?
According to the researchers, foods with a high indole production capacity or medications that mimic their effects can be new therapies for the treatment of fatty liver. However, prevention is another important aspect that must be taken into account.
Diet plays an important role
Preventing the development and progression of NAFLD can depend on nutritional approaches. Therefore, further research in this area is needed to investigate which healthy foods can alter the gut microbiota and increase indole production. (as)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Linqiang Ma, Honggui Li, Jinbo Hu, Juan Zheng, Jing Zhou et al .: Indole Alleviates Diet ‐ induced Hepatic Steatosis and Inflammation in a Manner Involving Myeloid Cell PFKFB3, in Hepatology (Published Jan 17, 2020), Hepatology