Healing damaged liver tissues

December 5th, 2011 - 4:39 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Dec 5 (IANS) Damaged liver tissues, which cause scars, can bring on cirrhosis — where the organ is unable to clean blood or produce vital hormones and clotting agents.

Such scars also foster the development of cancers. Hepatologists, working with mouse models, however, regenerated healthy tissues and blocked scarring by manipulating serotonin, the ‘happy’ drug.

Normally, when a liver is injured by a virus such as Hepatitis C or B, by alcohol, environmental factors or by a metabolic condition, specialised blood cells known as platelets make general repairs and secrete serotonin, the journal Nature Medicine reports.

However, the team found that when scar-forming cells, Hepatic stellate cells (HSC), are present they are instructed by serotonin to make more scar tissues and switch off the healthy regeneration, according to a Newcastle University statement.

Identifying and manipulating the receptor called 5-HT2B, they found they could control scarring and promote tissue regeneration.

“These are promising results in mouse models of liver disease and suggest that drugs targeting 5-HT2B, currently in clinical trials for mood disorders and pulmonary hypertension, might also have an application in the treatment of chronic liver disease,” said Derek Mann, professor of hepatology, who led the study at the Insitute of Cellular Medicine, Newcastle University.

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