Anania Digestive Diseases Lab
Department of Medicine Digestive Diseases Division Director, Frank Anania, MD, AGAF, FACP, leads a digestive diseases research team at Emory University The Anania laboratory is focused on basic mechanisms of liver diseases and liver injury related to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).
We also have a longstanding interest in the biology of hepatic fibrosis particularly how matrix deposition occurs secondary to adipocytokines. In recent years our work has focused on the synthetic peptide hormone, glucagon-like peptide one (GLP-1). This peptide is now synthesized for clinical use in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and functions as an incretin. Our lab is investigating how GLP-1 like proteins can eliminate free fatty acid or triglyceride stores in hepatocytes. We hypothesize that the effects of GLP-1 proteins are direct with action on signaling mechanisms in hepatocytes. In another project we have been collaborating with gastrointestinal pathologists using mice that have a deficiency of the junctional adhesion molecule –A (JAM-A), that is found primarily in the distal small intestine and colon. We have developed highly effective diets that induce metabolic syndrome and fibrosis in the livers of mice fed such diets in as little as 16 weeks.
Our data in JAM-A mice reveal that such diets induce significant molecular perturbations of the intestinal tight junctions and permit translocation of mediators that significantly up-regulate the hepatic innate immune system. These events can lead to a severe NASH phenotype. The lab continues to investigate mechanism to deactivate the hepatic stellate cell (HSC), the principle matrix producing cell following chronic sustained liver injury.