Maria E Moreno-Fernandez, PhD (n.e. Fields)

American Liver Foundation Liver Scholar Research Award
$225,000 over three years

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

Regulatory CD4+ T (Treg) cells in the pathogenesis of metabolic dysfunction-associated steatotic liver disease (MASLD)
Mentor: Senad Divanovic, PhD

As approximately one out of three adults and one out of five adolescents in the United States are obese. The US spends approximately $103 billion annually in obesity-related health care costs. Thus, there has been a strong focus on trying to understand this public health problem over the past decades. In this intensifying obesity pandemic, the United States leads the way with 1/3 of adults meeting criteria for obesity and the carrying/representing the highest mean adult BMI among high income countries. Similarly, childhood obesity in the United States has reached epidemic proportions as approximately 20% of those aged 2-19 are obese. Obesity represents a major risk factor for common and serious medical conditions including metabolically-associated steatotic liver disease (MASLD) and metablic-associated steatohepatitis (MASH) affecting one in four adults in the U.S. The development of MASLD and its progression is complex and poorly understood. However, is well accepted that the immune system is a critical causative link between obesity and MASLD pathogenesis. Our long-term goal is to understand the molecular mechanism by which obesity causes metabolic liver disease by delineating the role of regulatory immune cells (Treg cells) in MASLD progression. Ultimately, our research will help to identify mechanisms that lead to disease.

Last updated on January 24th, 2024 at 11:48 am

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