Chemical in veggies helps heal fatty liver

A new study shows that a compound naturally occurring in a variety of commonly used vegetables as well as being produced by gut microbes is very useful in melting fat away from a fatty liver.

The study, published in January 2020 in the journal Hepatology, focuses on the compound called indole, that is manufactured by gut bacteria but also abundant in cruciferous vegetables. This finding could help develop new ways to manage or prevent this condition.

The problem

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a condition in which the liver is stacked with fat. It may be due to overeating food with a high content of saturated fat. Other risk factors include obesity, which increases the risk 7-10 times compared with the general population.

Obesity is a metabolic issue which activates inflammation, which in turn is driven by white blood cells called macrophages. These are vitally involved in the fight against toxic or unfamiliar molecules. The recruitment of macrophages in fatty liver disease leads to worsening of liver injury due to the powerful chemicals released from these warrior cells designed to eat bacteria and other foreign material. If NAFLD is not treated, it could ruin the health of the liver, causing liver cirrhosis or even cancer.

The focus of the study was to describe indole effects on fatty liver, in 137 Chinese subjects. Indoles are found in cabbage, kale, broccoli and cauliflower, all cruciferous vegetables. Indole is produced during the breakdown of the amino acid tryptophan, which is a monoamine compound. It has activity against fatty degeneration of the liver, as well as anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.

The study also looked at how indole affected animals fare on a low- and high-fat diet, when present at different concentrations. The high-fat diet recreated a situation like that found in NAFLD.

The researchers also examined the effects of indole on individual cells, in the liver and the intestine. Intestinal cells typically signal anti-inflammatory messages to the liver. Indole increased the expression of a master gene (PFKFB3), specific to immune cells originating in the bone marrow. It regulates glucose breakdown and also inhibits the inflammatory activity of macrophages.

When this gene was suppressed, the fatty liver became more severe with increased inflammatory activity. Indole lost much of its effectiveness on NAFLD in obese animals with NAFLD produced by a high-fat diet.



Stellapharm is one of leading generics pharmaceutical companies and strong producer of anti-viral drugs in Vietnam. The company established in Vietnam in 2000; and focuses on both prescription drugs and non-prescription especially in cardiovascular diseases, anti-viral drugs, anti-diabetics drugs, etc. and our products are now used by millions of patients in more than 50 countries worldwide.

The company is globally recognized for its quality through our facilities have been audited and approved by stringent authority like EMA, PMDA, Taiwan GMP, local WHO and others.

Additional information for this article: Stellapharm J.V. Co., Ltd. – Branch 1
A: 40 Tu Do Avenue, Vietnam – Singapore Industrial Park, An Phu Ward, Thuan An Town, Binh Duong Province, Vietnam
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