When we think about the health of our liver, we don’t associate this directly with the health of our brain. A new clinical study has found that liver fibrosis (scarring in the liver) greatly increases the risk of brain shrinkage which leads to loss of mental function.
Fibrosis of the liver is caused by chronic inflammation in the liver and the problem is that this insidious condition is often missed and diagnosed too late. This can be prevented by having regular blood tests for liver function which will show the inflammation in the liver. This liver inflammation causes raised levels of liver enzymes in the blood. Other inflammatory markers to check are raised blood levels of C Reactive Protein (CRP) and ferritin.
The large study analysed behaviour in 447,626 participants 37 years and older over 9 years. Liver fibrosis showed significant associations with poor cognitive performance in reasoning, working memory, visual memory, executive function, and processing speed.
Neuroimaging analyses revealed significant associations between liver fibrosis and reduced regional grey matter volume (GMV) in the brain.
Grey matter is the most sophisticated part of the brain and has a higher concentration of brain cells. The GMV had shrunk in the brain regions known as the hippocampus, thalamus, ventral striatum, brain stem, and cerebellum.
CRP levels were significantly higher in adults with advanced liver fibrosis than those without, indicating an elevated systemic inflammation.
This study provides good evidence of associations between liver fibrosis, cognitive impairment, and loss of brain grey matter volume.
Dementia is an epidemic in the ageing population and liver inflammation is one of the reasons it is increasing. Liver inflammation can usually be reversed effectively with diet and lifestyle changes. Fatty liver is the most common cause of liver inflammation and fibrosis and is associated with a diet high in carbohydrates, seed oils and sugar. Toxic environmental chemicals and microplastics can also cause liver inflammation.
Many people find that their mental clarity and sharpness improves greatly when they improve their liver health. Early detection and prevention of liver diseases should reduce cognitive decline and loss of brain grey matter volume. See the book Fatty Liver: You Can Reverse It for my complete recommendations. Livatone Plus and Livatone Shots contain ingredients traditionally used in European herbal medicine to support healthy liver regeneration.
Rongtao Jiang et al, Elevated C-reactive protein mediates the liver-brain axis: a preliminary study, 2023 Jun 23;93:104679.