High fat diet has lasting effects on the liver

Fat cells. Credit: Shutterstock

Consuming a high-fat, high-sugar diet causes a harmful accumulation of fat in the liver that may not reverse even after switching to a healthier diet, according to a new study by scientists from Weill Cornell Medicine and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

For the study, published Oct. 3 in Science Translational Medicine, the investigators developed a nanosensor that can detect and noninvasively track the accumulation of fat in the liver. They used the sensor to assess the effects of a high-fat, high-sugar diet on the livers of mice. They then evaluated the outcomes when the mice returned to a healthy diet. Unexpectedly, the researchers found that, while the decreases after returning to a healthy diet, some residual fat remains in certain liver cells long afterwards.


“Going on a short-term unhealthy diet binge is a bad idea,” said senior author Dr. Daniel Heller, an associate professor in the Pharmacology and Physiology, Biophysics and Systems Biology program at the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences and head of the Cancer Nanomedicine Laboratory at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. “The liver remembers.”

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