Hokkaido University Research Profiles

Life Sciences

Reduce Stress on the Liver to Prevent Liver Disease!

To prevent lifestyle-related diseases of the liver (e.g., fatty liver, hepatitis, cirrhosis)

We are analyzing the molecular mechanisms of organ stress, mainly in the liver, for the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of lifestyle-related diseases. Using our unique optical imaging technology, we are conducting dynamic analysis to explore functional foods and develop new drugs from a new perspective.

Content of research

In recent years, the number of lifestyle-related diseases such as fatty liver and steatohepatitis has been steadily increasing. These conditions are generally unrecognized and difficult to prevent due to their slow progression and lack of subjective symptoms. However, since these diseases are known to progress to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma, prevention and suppression of progression are important.
We are studying the molecular mechanisms of the progression of hepatic steatosis, injury, hepatitis, and liver fibrosis caused by various kinds of stress. At the same time, we are searching for functional foods and therapeutic agents to inhibit the progression of disease. Furthermore, we are attempting to conduct unique pathological analysis and construct an in vitro screening system for functional foods and drugs by applying optical imaging technology.

  • Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is thought to progress to steatohepatitis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma by the additional action of various mechanisms triggered by simple hepatic lipolysis. We are attempting to identify the key molecules involved in the pathological progression of each process, and to search for foods and drugs that control them.

  • We are using bioimaging to actually visualize liver stress and screen for various biological level factors that promote liver injury and hepatitis.

Potential for social implementation

  • Development of functional foods and drug discovery for the prevention and inhibition of the progression of the following conditions and diseases
  • ・Liver damage/injury
  • ・Fatty liver
  • ・Steatohepatitis
  • ・Acute and chronic stress diseases and aging

Appealing points to industry and local governments

We are trying to understand the acute and chronic pathology of the liver, especially associated with stress. We are attempting to identify the molecules that play a central role in each type of pathology, evaluate them using optical imaging techniques, and understand the pathology organically by networking the information in a multidimensional manner. We believe that these efforts will make the search for functional foods and the development of new drugs more efficient and effective.