ISLAMABAD: Researchers at the University of Colorado in the US have suggested that a common antioxidant may also protect against nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
Antioxidants, like Vitamins C and E, selenium, and carotenoids, are commonly found in fruits and vegetables. They are believed to prevent some chronic illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer, due to their ability to protect against cell damage.
Physicist and associate professor of anesthesiology at CU Anschutz, Karen Jonscher PhD, led a team of researchers who fed a high-fat, high-sugar western diet to pregnant mice in order to induce obesity. Another group of pregnant mice were fed a healthy diet. Additionally, a subsection from each of the two groups received pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) in their drinking water.
The PQQ treatment reduced both liver and body fat in obese offspring. PQQ reduced the liver fat in mice even before they were born.
The researchers found decreased indicators of oxidative stress and pro-inflammatory genes in obese mice that had been given PQQ. This suggested that the antioxidant also reduced liver inflammation.
Interestingly, these positive effects persevered in the offspring after the PQQ was withdrawn as part of the weaning process.
"When given to obese mouse mothers during pregnancy and lactation, we found it protected their offspring from developing symptoms of liver fat and damage that leads to NAFLD in early adulthood," said Jonscher.
PQQ is naturally found in soil, interstellar dust, and human breast milk. The antioxidant is critical for development in mammals, and it can also be found in a variety of plant foods, such as soy, parsley, celery, kiwi, and papaya.
Jonscher also emphasised the benefits of early PQQ diet supplementation for the prevention of liver disease.
She said, "Perhaps supplementing the diet of obese pregnant mothers with PQQ, which has proven safe in several human studies, will be a therapeutic target worthy of more study in the battle to reduce the risk of NAFLD in babies."
The researcher cautions, however, that pregnant women should always check with their physician before taking any supplements.