A New Study Uncovered A Link Between Liver Fibrosis And Cognitive Decline, Underscoring The Crucial Relationship Between Physical And Mental Health

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An increasing number of scientific findings are underscoring the fact that the well-being of our brains is intricately linked to our overall physical health.

“More and more, folks are starting to realize that there’s not this split between brain-based disorders and other types of physical health,” said Dustin Scheinost, an associate professor of radiology and biomedical imaging from Yale University.

“We’re starting to understand that liver disease, heart disease, and other diseases will have impacts on the brain, and brain disorders have impacts on the body.”

Scheinost recently led a research team as they explored deeper into this realm, conducting a study that analyzed how liver fibrosis is linked to cognitive decline.

The team took advantage of the extensive data available from the UK Biobank, which contains health records of more than 500,000 adults, to delve into the potential effects of liver fibrosis on brain health. This rich dataset allowed the team to investigate a representative cross-section of the population and reveal relationships that may not be evident in smaller studies.

The team scrutinized data on liver fibrosis, cognitive performance (including working memory, problem-solving ability, and processing speed), and grey matter volume in various brain regions.

They discovered that individuals with liver fibrosis exhibited lower cognitive abilities and reduced grey matter volume in several parts of the brain, such as the hippocampus, thalamus, striatum, and brain stem, compared to those without liver disease.

Rongtao Jiang, the study’s lead author and a postdoctoral associate in Scheinost’s lab, pointed out that they found a marked negative relationship between liver fibrosis and numerous cognitive functions, including working memory, prospective memory, and processing speed.

While the study design couldn’t pinpoint cause and effect, it allowed the researchers to explore potential factors mediating the observed link between liver disease and brain health.

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