Fighting fatty liver

India has the highest number of diabetics in the world with over 30 million sufferers, and a rising problem of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and related metabolic disorders. This has a significant impact on day to day living for many people.

The University set up the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) to support cutting edge research that addresses challenges faced by developing countries. Through it we have received funding for an imaging project – ‘Fighting Fatty Liver’. 

Working alongside the Population Health and Research Institute (PHRI) and Holistic Health and Research Institute (HHRI) in Trivandrum, India, we have helped to set up a dietary and lifestyle intervention study with the aim to equip local social workers, scientists and radiographers to perform similar studies in the future. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Spectroscopy (MRS) provide key non-invasive measures to monitor the progress of health outcomes in these studies, and with our expertise at Nottingham we have been able to introduce novel and important imaging markers to aid future research. 

The main project was a four-month intervention study, which replaced white rice with red rice in order to lower the glycaemic index of meals throughout this period. The hypothesis was that lowering the glycaemic index over this period would reduce liver fat content. 

Patients were scanned in a 3 Tesla (3T) system at a local scanning facility, before and after the study. Breath-held Dixon scanning was used to determine abdominal fat and liver volumes, and localised MRS was used to calculate liver fat fraction. Our team also worked closely with local radiographers to provide them with equipment and training, preparing them with the skills needed to run future studies.  

This project an excellent example of our Beacon’s global impact, showcasing how our interdisciplinary team can help to improve health concerns in developing countries.  

World-class research at the University of Nottingham

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