The CNIO group led by researcher Erwin Wagner discovered that the Fra-1 protein is causally involved in liver fibrosis and protects the liver from drug-induced liver damage
Drug abuse and alcohol are some of the most frequent causes of liver damage, particularly in developed countries. Such kind of liver damage can cause irreversible liver failure and even cancer. Researchers from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) have discovered an important new protective role of the Fra-1 protein, which neutralizes the damage caused by agents, such as the analgesic drug acetaminophen (Paracetamol). This is the first study to reveal a function of Fra-1 in protecting this important organ. The study is published today in the journal Hepatology.
The journal includes a comment by David A. Brenner, from the University of California, who is a leader in the field of gastroenterological research, specializing in diseases of the liver. In the comment, Brenner highlights the importance of this study, saying that it "should provide new insights into the complex role of AP-1 [a family of proteins which Fra1 is part of] in liver disease and the potential role of inhibitors of the signalling pathway in the treatment of specific liver diseases."
A NEW 'SUPER-DETOXIFYING' MOUSE
Key to the study has been a new 'super-detoxifying' mouse model generated by the team around Erwin Wagner, Director of the BBVA Foundation-CNIO Cancer Cell Biology Programme and holder of an ERC Advanced Grant.
"Our mouse was designed to produce extra Fra-1 protein only in the liver, which allowed us to study its specific function in this organ and thus eliminate side effects that an excess of protein might have in other tissues", explains Sebastian Hasenfuss, first author of the study.