The extracellular matrix as a target for biophysical and molecular imaging of inflammation and fibrosis of the liver
Quantitative biophysical imaging, biochemical and histological analyses will be used to (i) elucidate suitability of hyaluronic acid (glycosaminoglycan) and lumican (inflammatory marker) in ECM as early predictors for NAFLD/NASH; (ii) clarify the progression of ECM changes in inflammation related to dysbiotic gut microbiota; and (iii) investigate the translational potential of ECM-targeted imaging.
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During inflammation and fibrosis in the course of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), the extracellular matrix (ECM) of the liver undergoes specific structural changes. Tissue viscoelastic parameters sensitive to this show that liver stiffness is mainly determined by hepatocytes, whereas viscoelastic dispersion can be attributed to the ECM.
Innovations and perspectives
Insights will be gained on (i) hepatic ECM in inflammation, (ii) disease-related glycosaminoglycans in progression and treatment of NAFLD and NASH, (iii) gut microbiota and pro-inflammatory lumican in ECM changes related to susceptibility to NAFLD and disease severity, and (iv) translational potential of ECM-targeted imaging.
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