A compound present in the typical December holidays plant, mistletoe may be able to improve the health of the liver as it has shown the potential to counter obesity, and hence, help prevent obesity-related liver disease. This finding is according to a study conducted by Korean researchers with mice models, now published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a journal from the American Chemical Society (ACS).
The research team, led by Jungkee Kwon, discovered the Korean mistletoe has properties that produce a series of biologically active compounds, including some that are similar to known stubstances, like steroids and flavonoids. Their studies concluded the extract from the plant has an anti-obesity effect, even though they haven’t been able to confirm which particular molecules are involved in the process.
“The incidence of NAFLD [non-alcoholic fatty liver disease] in adults and children is increasing rapidly due to the progression of obesity and Type 2 diabetes epidemics,” said Kwon in the report. “We purified potential candidate molecules from Korean mistletoe and confirmed that viscothionin is the active component involved in lipid metabolism.”
The study was also designed to investigate whether the key ingredient was able to combat fatty liver disease, a common yet serious complication of poor weight control. The team was able to identify the specific substance that acts on the liver. Viscothionin, present in the Korean mistletoe, works on the liver’s fat metabolism and showed the ability to reduce both body and liver weight in mice.
The researchers believe that viscothionin may be able to provide new therapeutic options for the treatment of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, although more research is needed to better understand the potential therapeutic agent and its uses. The study was funded by the National Research Foundation of Korea and the Korea Science and Engineering Foundation.
Preventing obesity has become a major concern in the health care field, and a group of researchers from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) have also recently developed a drug able to suppress obesity, as it determines the location of and eliminates stem cells that are responsible for fat production and accumulation. During their studies, conducted on mice models of obesity, the scientists demonstrated the drug’s efficacy in preventing weight gain, as published at the Cell Death & Differentiation journal.