islamabad-Obstructive sleep apnea and low nighttime oxygen - which results in oxidative stress - may trigger progression of paediatric non-alcoholic fatty liver disease to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.

Results from a multi-channel sleep study observed that compared with those patients with a less severe form of NAFLD, the most severe NAFLD patients experienced sleep-disordered breathing - heightened breathing difficulties during sleep - and higher apnea-hypopnea index scores.

Patients with OSA and hypoxia - deficiency in the amount of oxygen reaching the tissues - had worse liver scar tissue than those without.

The team found a clear correlation between the severity of the indexes of oxidative stress in the liver and the severity of the indexes used to evaluate OSA.

MD Shikha Sundaram said, “These data show that sleep-disordered breathing is an important trigger of oxidative stress that promotes progression of paediatric NAFLD to NASH. We showed that obese adolescents with NAFLD who have OSA and low nighttime oxygen have significant scar tissue in their livers, and that NAFLD patients affected by OSA and low nighttime oxygen have a greater imbalance between the production of free radicals and their body’s ability to counteract their harmful effects than subjects without OSA and low oxygen.”

Sundaram continues to say that further evidence to back up this hypothesis will require additional investigations to demonstrate prevention or reversal of NASH following treatment for OSA and low nighttime oxygen in obese patients.

“Nocturnal Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy may be a potential treatment by reducing intermittent nocturnal hypoxia-induced oxidative stress,” she adds.

“The investigators reported significant relationships between blood hematocrit (Hct) and NAFLD fibrosis stage, and anti-oxidant blood values, and between NAFLD and lipid peroxidation parameters. Their combined evaluation should help in deciding whether histological and polysomnographic evaluation are needed in order to recognize adolescent patients with more severe NAFLD and more severe OSA and hypoxia earlier.”

“We definitely need trials designed to investigate whether CPAP treatment may significantly affect NAFLD progression in this age range,” they add.

“The only randomized controlled trial was of relatively short duration, performed on adult patients with mild OSA/hypoxia and normal baseline transaminases, and apparently did not demonstrate any impact on steatosis, NASH or liver fibrosis,” they conclude.

Exercise ‘does not harm

memory: Study

In 2014, a study claimed that new neurons created through physical activity erase old memories. Now, new research by scientists from Texas A&M College of Medicine finds this is not the case.

For the new research, Shetty and team replicated the earlier study, but they used rats instead of mice. This is because the neuronal function of rats more closely resembles that of humans.

“This is pretty clear evidence that exercise greatly increases neurogenesis in the hippocampus, which has functional implications,” says first author Maheedhar Kodali, Ph.D., of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Texas A&M. “Neurogenesis is important for maintaining normal mood function, as well as for learning and creating new memories.”

The researchers then placed both groups of rats back in the water maze, in order to test whether they could remember how to navigate it.

The team found that the memory recall of the exercising rats was comparable with that of sedentary rats, suggesting that exercise has no detrimental effect on memory. This effect was the same for moderate and brisk runners.

The authors say their findings contradict those of the 2014 study, and they should come as welcome news for individuals who believed their morning run might have negative outcomes for memory.

PhD Ashok K Shetty said that “Exercise is not at all harmful. It doesn’t cause any memory problems, and there are many studies proving its benefits for making new memories and maintaining good mood. Now, our study showed that exercise does not interfere with memory recall ability. Keep exercising, and don’t worry about losing your old memories.”

New asthma pill reduces troublesome symptoms

A research showed that the first new asthma pill in almost 20 years shows promise in significantly reducing the severity of asthma.

The research was led by Prof. Chris Brightling, from the University of Leicester in the U.K., who says the pill “could be a game changer for future treatment of asthma.”

Asthma is a burdensome disease of the lungs that causes wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing.

Study results showed that participants with moderate-to-severe asthma who took Fevipiprant had a reading that reduced from an average of 5.4 percent to just 1.1 percent over the course of 12 weeks.

Prof. Brightling says their study was unique in that it “included measurements of symptoms, lung function using breathing tests, sampling of the airway wall and CT scans of the chest to give a complete picture of how the new drug works.”

Prof Christopher Brightling said that “Most treatments might improve some of these features of disease, but with Fevipiprant, improvements were seen with all of the types of tests. We already know that using treatments to target eosinophilic airway inflammation can substantially reduce asthma attacks.

This new treatment, Fevipiprant, could likewise help to stop preventable asthma attacks, reduce hospital admissions and improve day-to-day symptoms - making it a ‘game changer’ for future treatment.”

The study authors add that the pill had a favorable safety profile; there were no deaths or serious adverse events reported, and there were no patient withdrawals that were related to the drug. 

Next steps include evaluation of the pill in late-stage clinical trials for efficacy in patients with severe asthma.  Prof. Brightling adds that future treatment of diseases such as asthma will likely move from a “one-size-fits-all approach” to one that is tailored to treating individual patients.