fatty liver disease

In a recent study, researchers determine whether the combination of taurine and tea polyphenols would have a protective effect against fatty liver disease.

Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a form of fatty liver disease for which there is currently no safe and effective therapy. Patients at risk for fatty liver disease are often patients with type 2 diabetes or patients with high cholesterol. Taurine, an amino acid, is believed to have effects on levels of blood glucose, lipids, and liver transaminases. Polyphenols are the natural compounds found in tea and are often used as natural antioxidants. The combination of taurine and tea polyphenols might reveal a possible treatment in addition to changes in diet and lifestyle for fatty liver disease, specifically NASH.

Wenhua Zhu, from the gastroenterology department at the NanLou Clinic in the People’s Republic of China and colleagues, used rats with NASH to test their hypothesis that taurine combined with tea polyphenols would have a protective effect against the fatty liver disease in rats. They also aimed to demonstrate whether treatment with both had superior effects compared with either compound alone. They published their results in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

The rats were divided into eight groups depending on the diet the researchers administered. At the end of the treatment period, the rats were sacrificed and studied for liver activity to determine levels of serum transaminases, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol. The researchers also studied the rats for oxidative stress levels. Liver cells were retrieved for tissue assessment of steatosis, which is an excessive storage of fat within a cell, and inflammation.

The results showed that the effect of taurine on liver function is enhanced with the addition of tea polyphenols. The researchers also found improvements in liver cell steatosis and inflammation in the taurine group, tea polyphenols group, and the groups with a combination of taurine and tea polyphenols. Once again, the combination treatment had superior results over the single-treatment groups.

This study showed that the natural substances of taurine and tea polyphenols can help in the prevention and treatment of fatty liver disease, specifically NASH. The beneficial effects of taurine on liver function in rats with NASH can be enhanced by the addition of tea polyphenols, with few or no side effects.  Further studies are necessary to improve the preparation of the combined taurine and tea polyphenol treatment. In addition, efficacy and adverse effects of taurine and tea polyphenols must be studied in humans with NASH. This interesting study indicates that taurine and tea polyphenol compounds can be a new, effective treatment for patients with NASH.

Written by Jessica Caporuscio, PharmD


Zhu W, Chen S, Chen R, et al. Taurine and tea polyphenols combination ameliorate nonalcoholic steatohepatitis in rats. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2017.

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