A team of researchers has identified inflammatory cells that play a key role in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The team started with the immune cells involved in inflammation of adipose tissue in patients with insulin resistance, looking to determine the role of Natural Killer T cells and CD8 T cells in the development of the disease. To this effect they fed a group of mice with a western diet, high in fat and carbohydrates, and a control group on the normal diet over a period of 16 weeks. As a result, mice from the Western diet evidenced an increase in inflammation, with infiltration of Natural Killer and CD8 T cells into the liver, compared to mice in the normal diet. Next, to identify the contribution of each immune cell, the researchers repeated the assay on mice to which functional Natural Killer T cells had been removed. After 16 weeks, mice in the Western diet did not become obese nor did they demonstrate progress towards developing NAFLD, suggesting that T-cell type could play an integral role in the development of those liver problems. The team conducted another trial in rodents to which CD8 T cells had been removed. Mice became obese, but were protected against NAFLD, exhibiting fewer macrophages and fibrosis or liver. Source: Hepatology Communications.