In the current study, patients who are screened for liver inflammation and fibrosis at outpatient primary care clinics, including general internal medicine, family medicine and endocrinology, will be assessed, if they agree to participate and meet eligibility requirements.
Half the patients found to have a liver scarring will be offered a drug called pioglitazone, which has shown promise in curbing the progression of the disease, along with a diet and exercise regimen. Weight loss brought on by lifestyle changes is one of the primary ways to fight the accumulation of liver fat.
And half of patients will receive a placebo combined with lifestyle changes (up to a total of about 130 eligible volunteers).
In addition, all patients with diabetes will be tracked and monitored over time. Blood tests and imaging studies will be conducted on their liver to determine if the disease is progressing.
“We want to know what the factors are that make the disease get worse,” Cusi said. “We can then act in a more effective way moving forward.”
Joining Cusi in work on this study are Romina Lomonaco, M.D., and Diana Barb, M.D., assistant professors in the UF College of Medicine’s division of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism; Virginia Clark, M.D., an associate professor in the UF College of Medicine’s division of gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition; Margaret C. Lo, M.D., a professor in the UF College of Medicine’s division of general internal medicine; and Matthew Gurka, Ph.D., a professor and associate chair of UF Health Outcomes and Biomedical Informatics in the UF College of Medicine.
Research in this publication was supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the NIH under award No. R01DK120331. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.