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Vitamin E helps diminish a type of fatty liver disease in children
Date:4/27/2011

A specific form of vitamin E improved the most severe form of fatty liver disease in some children, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health. Results appear in the April 27 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. A previous study found vitamin E effective in some adults with the disease.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common chronic liver disease among U.S. children. NAFLD ranges in severity from steatosis (fat in the liver without injury) to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis or NASH (fat, inflammation, and liver damage). Fatty liver increases a child's risk of developing heart disease and liver cirrhosis. The only way to distinguish NASH from other forms of fatty liver disease is with a liver biopsy. Weight loss may reverse the disease in some children, but other than dietary advice, there are no specific treatments. Excess fat in the liver is believed to cause injury by increasing levels of oxidants, compounds that damage cells.

Most children with fatty liver disease are overweight and resistant to insulin, a critical hormone that regulates energy. Boys are more likely affected than girls, as are Hispanic children compared to African-Americans and whites.

Using liver biopsies, researchers found that after 96 weeks of treatment, 58 percent of the children on vitamin E no longer had NASH, compared to 41 percent of the children on metformin (a diabetes drug), and 28 percent on placebo. Vitamin E was better than placebo because it significantly reduced enlargement and death of liver cells.

"These results suggest that vitamin E improves or resolves NASH in at least half of children, which we previously showed to be true in adults," said Stephen P. James, M.D., director of the digestive diseases and nutrition division at NIH's National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), which funded the study. While the results are encouraging, p
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Contact: Leslie Curtis
niddkmedia@mail.nih.gov
301-496-3583
NIH/National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Source:Eurekalert

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