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Genes may play a role in liver disease

Category: Liver Diseases

Genes may play a role in liver disease A family history of liver disease may predict the necessity of liver testing. A new study has found that variations of a particular gene that can be passed from generation to generation may be a contributor to liver conditions such as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), fibrosis and cirrhosis.

Researchers from the National Institutes of Health Medical Center performed genetic testing on individuals who had one such liver disease or exhibited its early stages. They found that a significant number of patients had a particular gene that is uncommon in healthy individuals.

"Our findings suggest that the allele may predispose patients to fat accumulation in the liver, but that other factors, environmental or hereditary, may be required for the development of inflammation, cellular injury and fibrosis," said T. Jake Liang, who led the study. "However, once patients develop NASH, the allele predisposes them to more severe injury."

A total of 20 to 30 percent of the population has nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, a precursor to more severe liver conditions. The findings could give physicians a better idea of which patients will benefit from liver testing by including family history as a risk factor.
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