The picture shows the team of the research group Molecular Nutritional Sciences at the Departemnt of Nutrtional Sciences

Team of the research group Molecular Nutritional Sciences

Professorship Molecular Nutritional Sciences

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Ina Bergheim

Research sector

Risikofaktoren metabolischer Lebererkrankungen: Aloholkonsum, unregelmäßige physische Aktivität, Interstinale Mikrobiota, Intestinale Barrierefunktion, Übergewicht (viszerale Adipositas), Alter, Überernährung (Fett-, Kohlenhydrat- bzw. Zuckereich)

Possible risk factors for the development of metabolic liver diseases

Despite numerous studies investigating the direct and indirect metabolic alterations associated with the development of metabolic liver diseases like non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD, in the following used as the generic term of simple steatosis and steatohepatitis) and alcoholic liver disease (ALD), molecular mechanisms involved have not yet been fully understood.

In Europe 2-44 % of the general population is estimated to be affected by NAFLD (Blachier et al. 2013) with children and adolescents also being increasingly affected by the disease. According to estimates of Rehm et al. 2013 liver cirrhosis, as a result of ALD, was responsible for 493,300 deaths (156,900 female and 336,400 male deaths) worldwide in 2010 and liver cancer attributed to alcohol intake is responsible for ~80,600 deaths worldwide, with the number of men dying from liver cancer being ~ 4 times higher than women.

To date besides life-style interventions like a weight-reduction for the treatment of NAFLD and in the case of ALD alcohol abstinence no universally accepted therapies are available to hinder or reverse the progression of NAFLD and ALD. A better understanding of biochemical and pathological alterations associated with the development and progression of these two liver diseases could therefore help in the development of new prevention and therapeutic strategies.

Starting from this background the main research focus of our group lays in delineating molecular mechanisms involved in the development of NAFLD and ALD and the development of new nutrition-based prevention and therapy approaches. Herein, we primarily study the interaction of nutrients and alcohol, respectively, with the intestinal barrier and the role of these interactions in the development of metabolic liver diseases with a specific focus on aging process. Using different model organisms, findings from these studies are then used to develop new inventions to prevent and cure NAFLD and ALD.