UT professors, students study algal bloom effects on human liver

[USA] Researchers from the University of Toledo are digging deeper into the effects algal bloom toxins have on the human liver.

The team from the College of Medicine and Life Sciences is trying to determine what the limits are for the average liver.

“No one knows what safe limits are for a large segment of the public,” said David Kennedy, assistant professor in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine. “Previous studies only focused on healthy animals.”

Researchers are also trying to determine the effects of microcystin in relation to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, the most common liver disease in the United States.

“Microcystin is a toxin that specifically targets the liver, a vital organ that needs to be healthy in order to process the food you eat,” Kennedy said. “And non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is the most prevalent type of liver disease nationally – particularly in northwest Ohio. Whether diagnosed or undiagnosed, a third of northwest Ohioans have this disease that is silent at first, but predisposes you to big problems down the road, such as the liver becoming scarred and inflamed.”

Obesity is also a major contributor to the liver disease, often leading to failure and need for a transplant, according to the National Institutes of Health. Obese people may be more susceptible to microcystin effects.

“There is a large population of people who may be susceptible to the effects of microcystin exposure, whether it’s swallowed while swimming at the beach or through the tap should toxic algae once again contaminate the public water supply,” said Steven Haller, assistant professor in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine and co-leader of the project that began in the spring. “The Toledo water crisis inspired us to reevaluate what levels we’re calling safe.”

UT researchers are working off a $45,000 grant from the state of Ohio to discover is pre-existing liver diseases make one more prone to liver damage by algal bloom toxins, allowing local and state health organizations set guidelines.

 

View original article at: UT professors, students study algal bloom effects on human liver

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