Doctors may someday be able to reverse the damage that the liver has caused to the liver for years, according to a new study.
This damage, called cirrhosis in the liver and fibrosis in the lungs, is an endless process of scarring that can happen to almost any organ with age, disease, and multiple injuries.
Scar tissue can outpace healthy organ tissue and prove fatal, as is the case with terminal diseases of the liver and lungs – and there is no cure, only softening.
But scientists at the Mayo Clinic may be on the verge of changing that.
In laboratory tissues and mice, they found that the research team found that they could block the two proteins that carry "instructions" for the formation of fibroblasts ̵
Scientists have found a way to reverse the process that causes scar tissue to replace healthy tissue, driving liver and lung disease in experiments on peters and mice
and alcoholic look as sick as it is.
work that the liver needs to do in order to process alcohol is difficult for him, as years of hard manual labor would be on the hands and muscles.
Removing alcohol and other toxins – as well as performing other functions like storing glucose, making blood proteins and bile – makes the liver vulnerable to infections like hepatitis B and C and damages it over time, at what we call liver disease.
Slow scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue. Blood also cannot flow through this wiry tissue, and the liver's ability to process toxins and nutrients pumped through it begins to degrade.
Once cirrhosis occurs, there can never be anything that doctors can do to force healthy liver tissue back to where the scar tissue has taken over, except for a full organ transplant.
An almost identical process occurs in the progression of lung disease, although it is called fibrosis, not cirrhosis.
The scar is firmer than the strong but flexible tissue that builds up healthy lungs so that fibrosis sufferers struggle to breathe properly and often cough and wheeze.
The progression of lesions and signs of the lungs and liver is well known and well understood by scientists, but details of the development of these diseases are still the subject of increasing research.
In recent years, scientists have discovered two proteins that seem to switch certain genes, which in turn send instructions to the lungs or liver, which indicate tissue marks to be introduced.
Both proteins, YAP and TAZ, are involved in other diseases, most notably cancer.
But they are also crucial in the "social dynamics" of how different cells interact with each other, as well as the way in which wounds heal and even such basic regulatory functions to ensure that the cell retains its size.
So despite the fact that YAP and TAZ set attractive targets for stopping both tumor growth and fibroblast development, scientists cannot simply block them without disrupting a whole cascade of other essential biological processes.
But the Mayo Clinic team wanted to look more closely at the fibroblasts themselves to find a way to block YAP and TAZ in isolation.
And as a new study reveals, they found: dopamine.
Fibroblasts, especially in the lungs and liver, have discovered a dopamine receptor, the same neurotransmitter that allows us to feel pleasure and pain.
"Dopamine is mainly investigated for disorders of the central nervous system and we were surprised to find dopamine receptors expressed in fibroblasts," says study lead author Dr. Daniel Zumerlin.
The stimulation of dopamine receptors in fibroblasts has done something quite remarkable for the precursors of scar tissue.
This made them switch modes. So, if YAP and TAZ put the destructive agent, which is fibrosis, into "propulsion", adding dopamine to the equation puts it in the "opposite", stopping scar tissue formation and even turning it into mouse and pet samples .
"In addition to monitoring the regulation of dopamine signaling in the lung, we are actively developing new molecules to target the dopamine receptor, as we believe there is strong promise in trying to transmit this approach to human diseases," Dr. Tshumerlin.
About 100,000 people in the United States suffer from irreversible pulmonary fibrosis, and another 30,000 to 40,000 are diagnosed annually.
One in 400 adults in the United States has cirrhosis of the liver, which will only get worse with time.
But if the study of the Mayo Clinic suggests that if the same process is safe in humans, then one day it may be possible to recover.