Amino Acid Protects Liver From Oxidative Stress

Scientists in China revealed that the amino acid serine may prevent non-alcoholic fatty liver disease by alleviating oxidative stress.

AsianScientist (Jan. 10, 2018) – A research group in China has discovered that an amino acid supplement may be useful in the prevention of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) by buffering against oxidative stress. They published their findings in the journal BBA Molecular Basis of Disease.

NAFLD is the most common chronic liver disease worldwide, affecting approximately one in four individuals. It is especially common among obese individuals, wherein fatty deposits build up in the liver, impairing its function. Earlier studies have indicated that the amino acid serine may prevent NAFLD, but the precise mechanisms by which it achieves this effect was unclear.

In this study, researchers at the Institute of Subtropical Agriculture (ISA) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences investigated the effects of serine supplementation on the synthesis of glutathione—a major antioxidant pathway in biological systems—and oxidative stress in mice fed with a high-fat diet (HFD).

They found that water supplemented with one percent serine increased glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity in HFD-treated mice, suggesting that liver function was well-maintained. In addition, serine supplementation protected HFD-induced lipid accumulation and oxidative stress in the liver of mice. Similar results were obtained with primary human liver cells, or hepatocytes.

Furthermore, the researchers revealed that serine epigenetically modified the expression of glutathione synthesis-related genes and triggered the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) pathway, all of which are critical mechanisms for regulating oxidative stress in cells.

“Our findings shed new light on the use of serine in the prevention of NAFLD in humans,” said Dr. Zhou Xihong, a researcher at ISA.

The article can be found at: Zhou et al. (2017) Serine Prevented High-fat Diet-induced Oxidative Stress by Activating AMPK and Epigenetically Modulating the Expression of Glutathione Synthesis-related Genes.


Source: Chinese Academy of Sciences; Photo: Shutterstock.
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