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Science Studies on Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Expression Signatures, Ties Between Gut Microbiome and Major Depression

By examining the transcriptomes of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) patients as their condition progresses, a group led by Newcastle University scientists has identified a gene expression signature associated with early stages of disease, its subsequent progression, and specific histological features. In the study, which appears in this week's Science Translational Medicine, high-throughput RNA sequencing was performed on a discovery cohort comprising histologically characterized NAFLD samples from 206 patients. An analysis of the sequencing data revealed a 25-gene signature linked to fibrosing steatohepatitis in two independent patient cohorts. The researchers also discovered that protein expression of GDF15, a member of the transforming growth factor-beta superfamily, is associated with hepatocyte ballooning, inflammation, and fibrosis in NAFLD. "This study provides insights into the pathophysiology of progressive fibrosing steatohepatitis, and proof of principle that transcriptomic changes represent potentially tractable and clinically relevant markers of disease progression," the authors write. GenomeWeb has more on this, here.

New data appearing in Science Advances this week provides new insights into how disturbances in the gut microbiome may influence major depressive disorder (MDD). Such disturbances have been implicated in MDD, but little is known about how the gut virome, microbiome, and fecal metabolome change and interact in the disorder. Using whole-genome shotgun metagenomic and untargeted metabolomic techniques, scientists from Chongqing Medical University and collaborators find three gut bacteriophages, 47 bacterial species, and 50 fecal metabolites showing notable differences in abundance between MDD patients and healthy controls. In particular, MDD patients showed an increased abundance of the genus Bacteroides and decreased abundance of the genera Blautia and Eubacterium. The team also identified and validated a combinatorial marker panel that could discriminate between MDD from healthy individuals, which may lead to new diagnostic strategies for MDD. GenomeWeb also covers this study, here.