AURORA, Colo. – A professor at the University of Colorado
School of Medicine at the Anschutz Medical Campus and his colleagues have found
a possible cause of liver disease in adolescents with cystic fibrosis.
research article published in the
journal PLOS One, Michael Narkewicz, MD, professor of pediatrics, and his
co-authors studied adolescents with cystic fibrosis and cirrhosis and compared
them to adolescents with cystic fibrosis and no liver disease.
found that those with liver disease had a different microbiome (gut bacteria),
slower small bowel motility and more signs of small bowel inflammation compared
to those without liver disease. This suggests that there is an interaction
between the gut bacteria in cystic fibrosis and the liver that may lead to
liver disease. The finding is important because it points to potential targets
for therapy by suggesting specific reasons that some adolescents with cystic
fibrosis develop advanced liver disease.
fibrosis is a life-threatening genetic disease that primarily affects the lungs
and digestive system. An estimated 30,000 children and adults in the United
States have cystic fibrosis. Cirrhosis occurs in 5 percent to 7 percent of
cystic fibrosis patients. Cirrhosis is a slowly progressing disease in which
healthy liver tissue is replaced with scar tissue, eventually preventing the
liver from functioning properly.
some intestinal symptoms are common in all cystic fibrosis patients,” Narkewicz
said, “we found there are some who have disturbances in intestinal function
combined with changes in the gut microbiome that may contribute to liver
disease. We hope this finding will point toward a better understanding of why
only 5 to 7 percent of cystic fibrosis patients develop severe liver disease
and will suggest potential therapies to help those patients.”
joined the Department of Pediatrics at the CU School of Medicine and Children’s
Hospital Colorado in 1989. He was appointed professor of pediatrics in
2003. He has served as medical director of the pediatric liver center and liver
transplantation program at Children’s Colorado since 1998, as director of the fellowship program
in pediatric gastroenterology since 2005 and as the director of
clinical services in pediatric gastroenterology from 2006 to 2012.
research was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of
Health/National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.
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