While hepatitis C virus and hepatitis B virus related liver disease continues to be of significant health concern, several metabolism-linked liver diseases currently have significant prevalence including fatty liver disease (“FLD”), non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (“NASH”), and alcoholic steatohepatitis (“ASH”).
NASH is the inflammatory progression of FLD and threatens to be the leading indication for liver transplantation in the country. Chronic oxidative stress and inflammation play an important physiological role in the initiation and progression of NASH and ASH.
In support, the anti-oxidant vitamin E has recently been shown to decrease liver enzyme levels and, importantly, diminish biopsy-determined liver pathology in the PIVENS trial, underscoring the importance of oxidative stress in NASH pathophysiology.
Astaxanthin, which is normally processed and stored in the liver, has been shown in an animal model of liver disease to decrease elevated liver enzymes and diminish histological pathology.
Current clinical treatments for NASH include the thiazolidinediones (pioglitazone and rosiglitazone) that appear to act via stimulation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (“PPAR-γ”) driven pathways to influence lipid and glucose metabolism.
In cell studies, both vitamin E and astaxanthin also exhibit PPAR-γ activating capacities. The paramount importance of chronic inflammation and oxidative stress on NASH and ASH pathological progression underscores the potential influence of astaxanthin to ameliorate liver disease in humans.