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Your liver is one of the most important organs in your body.
As my colleague, Joyce Hollman, points out, it’s a “machine” that keeps your body’s “home” running smoothly and in good health — not to mention the vital jobs that only it can do.
If your liver goes down, so do you.
It’s a fact that’s as true for your bones as it is for every other part of your body.
In fact, if you’re experiencing bone loss, problems with bone density or are worried about suffering from weak bones and fractures, your liver health, or lack of it, could be to blame.
Chronic liver injury leads to chronic bone problems
In fact, there’s even a term for bone problems caused by poor liver health.
Hepatic osteodystrophy disease (HOD) is a kind of metabolic bone disease that occurs in patients with chronic liver disorders. It involves issues like bone loss, bone density reduction and destruction of bone structure.
Yet, while doctors are aware of the problem, they weren’t exactly sure why it happens.
And that’s where a team of researchers from the Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences came in.
The researchers took a deep dive into the molecular mechanisms behind bone loss caused by chronic liver injury, discovering not only why your liver plays such an important role in your bone health, but also a possible therapeutic target to stop the loss.
The liver-bone axis
The scientists specifically looked at what they call the “liver-bone axis”. It’s the mechanism by which external stimuli, such as viruses, alcohol and even prescription drugs cause chronic liver damage, which then affects bone metabolism.
When the axis tilts the wrong way, osteoporosis and fractures can be a short step behind.
And what the scientists found was an enzyme called PP2Acα.
PP2Acα is responsible for helping your body heal under normal circumstances by activating cells called macrophages to gobble up foreign invaders, damaged cells and other things your body is better rid of.
But in the case of chronic liver injury, PP2Acα in the body goes up and stays up, destroying good bone along with damaged cells.
You could consider it a case of a good process taken too far.
Luckily, by making this discovery, the scientists were also able to find a way to stop it – at least eventually.
You see, they were able to pinpoint a liver factor, known as LCAT, which can protect the bones in face of that PP2Acα, while also guarding the liver.
“LCAT mediates bone metabolism by maintaining appropriate intracellular cholesterol levels and improves liver function by reversing cholesterol transport from bone tissues to the liver,” said Dr. LU Ke, first author of the study.
They hope that this discovery will lead to new therapeutic drugs to stop bone loss.
Avoiding liver disease
In the meantime, focus on keeping your liver healthy.
Since the bone loss starts due to chronic liver issues, such as fatty liver disease, caring for your liver could help protect your bones.
Look for signs that your liver may be in trouble and take steps to give it the support it needs like:
- Skipping foods that can harm the organ and eating a liver-healthy diet
- Boosting your liver health with supplements like Chaya and N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC)
- Using antioxidants that promote gentle liver detox
Your liver health and your bone health go hand-in-hand. So why not do everything you can to keep them in tip-top shape?
If you currently have liver disease, consult with your doctor before taking any supplement.
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