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article imageHow hepatitis damages the liver

By Tim Sandle     Dec 2, 2013 in Science
Viral infections are the primary cause of liver inflammation or hepatitis. These infections, which use the body's own immune system, can cause permanent damage to the liver.
Hepatitis is a medical condition defined by the inflammation of the liver and characterized by the presence of inflammatory cells in the tissue of the organ. The way that the immune system attacks the body is slowly being understood. What scientists now know is that the AP-1 gene in a subset of immune cells, called NK cells, increases the production of interferon-gamma that attacks liver cells while the organ is suffering from hepatitis.
The strange thing about AP-1 is that it acts as a double-edged sword in the liver: on one hand it is a first line of defense against viruses that cause the disease; on the other hand, it encourages liver damage depending on the diet or genetics of the patient.
Scientists hope that by furthering understanding about the AP-1 gene can lead to medications that can strengthen the way the body fights against the virus while minimizing the way that the body can work against itself.
The research was led by Erwin Wagner, Director of the BBVA Foundation-CNIO Cancer Cell Biology Program (in Spain), and the findings have been published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation. The paper is titled "JUNB/AP-1 controls IFN-γ during inflammatory liver disease."
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