"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Study finds link between liver disease and brain health

June 27, 2023 – Researchers at Yale University have found a link between liver fibrosis and reduced mental performance. Liver fibrosis is the scarring of tissue that happens in lots of chronic liver diseases.

The study highlighted the necessity for early detection of liver disease to stop cognitive decline.

The researchers used data from the UK Biobank project, a nationwide study of greater than 500,000 adults representing a cross-section of the British population.

They investigated “potential liver-brain connections and correlated liver fibrosis with reduced cognitive performance and brain volume,” News from Neuroscience wrote.

Researchers found that liver fibrosis was linked to less gray matter in parts of the brain. Inflammation “emerged as a potential mediating factor” between liver fibrosis, mental abilities and brain structure.

The study was published in eBioMedicine.

“People are starting to realize more and more that there is no separation between brain-related diseases and other types of physical health,” said Dustin Scheinost, associate professor of radiology and biomedical imaging at Yale School of Medicine and senior creator of the study. “We're starting to understand that liver disease, heart disease and other diseases have effects on the brain, and brain diseases have effects on the body.”

“There was a significant negative correlation between liver fibrosis and several cognitive functions, including working memory, prospective memory and processing speed,” said Rongtao Jiang, postdoctoral fellow and lead creator of the study.

“Early liver fibrosis is a reversible syndrome and our current study suggests that early monitoring and prevention of liver disease can reduce cognitive decline and brain volume loss,” Jiang said.

Jiang noted that medications or other methods to combat the inflammation attributable to liver disease could help prevent “the disease burden of liver fibrosis.”