New Study Uncovers Potential Treatment for Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

A breakthrough study, jointly led by Professor Jang Hyun Choi and Professor Sung Ho Park from the Department of Biological Sciences at UNIST has identified an important factor involved in the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) caused by obesity. The research team discovered that Thrap3, a protein associated with thyroid hormone receptors, plays a significant role in exacerbating NAFLD by inhibiting the activity of adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK), a key regulator of fat metabolism in the liver.

NAFLD encompasses various metabolic diseases such as fatty hepatitis and cirrhosis resulting from excessive fat accumulation. Despite its prevalence, effective treatments for NAFLD have been limited. However, this groundbreaking research sheds light on potential therapeutic approaches.

Through animal experiments conducted on rats, the research team demonstrated that Thrap3 directly binds to AMPK within the liver. This interaction prevents AMPK from translocating from the nucleus to the cytoplasm and impairs autophagy — a process crucial for breaking down triglycerides and reducing cholesterol levels. In essence, inhibiting Thrap3 expression presents a promising avenue for effectively treating NAFLD.

“We have encountered significant challenges while developing treatment strategies for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. However, our discovery of the Thrap3 gene provides us with an effective method to tackle this condition,” commented Professor Choi.

Additionally, it was confirmed that suppressing Thrap3 expression effectively improves non-alcoholic steatohepatitis — an inflammatory disease stemming from fatty liver.


Hyun-Jun Jang, Yo Han Lee, Tam Dao, Yunju Jo, Keon Woo Khim, Hye-jin Eom, Ju Eun Lee, Yi Jin Song, Sun Sil Choi, Kieun Park, Haneul Ji, Young Chan Chae, Kyungjae Myung, Hongtae Kim, Dongryeol Ryu, Neung Hwa Park, Sung Ho Park, Jang Hyun Choi. Thrap3 promotes nonalcoholic fatty liver disease by suppressing AMPK-mediated autophagy. Experimental & Molecular Medicine, 2023; 55 (8): 1720 DOI: 10.1038/s12276-023-01047-4

Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology(UNIST). (2023, October 2). New study uncovers potential treatment for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 3, 2023 from

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