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Dietary Contributions to Hepatic Diseases and Cancer

Edited by:
Professor Yu-Jui Yvonne Wan, PhD, University of California-Davis, United States of America    
Professor Huiping Zhou, PhD, Virginia Commonwealth University, United States of America  
Professor Alfred Sze-Lok Cheng, PhD, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China

Submission Status: Open   |   Submission Deadline: 31 January 2025

Cell & Bioscience is calling for submissions to our Collection on Dietary Contributions to Hepatic Diseases and Cancer. About 25% of the global population has metabolic dysfunction-associated steatotic liver disease (MASLD). Metabolic comorbidities associated with MASLD include obesity, type 2 diabetes (T2DM), and hyperlipidemia. Alarmingly, the prevalence of MASLD is 70% in T2DM patients. Further, MASLD can progress into metabolic dysfunction-associated steatohepatitis (MASH), leading to the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Together, MASLD will be the most common cause of chronic liver disease worldwide, and there is an urgent need to have diagnostic markers or safe drugs to prevent and treat MASH.

Different diets, such as the Western, high-fat, and ketogenic, are frequently used to study dietary effects in animal models. While a high-fat diet is efficient in weight gain, a sucrose-enriched Western diet is highly inflammatory in stimulating the expansion of IL-17A-producing γδ T cells. A ketogenic diet typically consists of about 75% of calories from fat and is used to treat MAFLD in patients. However, a ketogenic diet induces MAFLD and generates insulin resistance in rodents. When a ketogenic diet is consumed, the quality of fats, potential side effects, nutritional deficiency, and long-term impacts and sustainability are concerns. Those clinical issues warrant attention.

Emerging evidence reveals that diet-induced gut dysbiosis causes metabolic diseases and systemic inflammation. Through portal circulation, the liver is heavily exposed to gut-derived metabolites. Thus, diet affects the liver's health through the gut microbiome and its associated metabolites. It is interesting to note that the incidence of MASH and HCC is gender different, and so are the profiles of the gut microbiome and bile acids. Bile acids have been recognized as the intrinsic links to explain how gut microbes affect host metabolism. The mechanism for such gender differences in MASH and HCC would be particularly interesting, as it might help us understand why women are protected from developing them. The discovery of gender-specific biomarkers for MASH and HCC would also be significant.

MAFLD-associated HCC tends to be more resistant to immune checkpoint inhibitor treatment than the viral-associated HCC. Understanding the impact of different diets and nutrients on molecular signatures and the immune landscape is essential, as it affects live carcinogenesis and HCC treatment outcomes. Furthermore, due to the significance of the gut-liver axis in affecting liver phenotype, having orthotopic HCC models developed in immune-competent animals would be essential to study liver carcinogenesis and prevention as well as treatment. The recent development of novel animal models and their usage in biomarker discovery and drug development would be important for the field. Further, any novel models, devices, and state-of-the-art technology used to advance the field of MASH and HCC would be significant and impactful.

This collection invites submissions that explore the intersections of diet, nutrition, metabolic liver diseases, and cancer. We welcome original research or review papers that provide insights into the basic, translational, and clinical aspects of metabolic liver diseases and cancer.

Image credits: HCC developed in MASH; Yu-Jui Yvonne Wan’s lab.

New Content ItemThis collection supports and amplifies research related to SDG 2 and 3: Zero hunger and Good health and well being.  

Meet the Guest Editors

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Professor Yu-Jui Yvonne Wan, Ph.D., University of California-Davis, USA

Dr. Wan has served three medical universities, UCLA, KUMC, and UC Davis, and accumulated 40 years of research experience studying metabolic liver disease, carcinogenesis, treatment, and prevention. Dr. Wan's laboratory generated the first hepatocyte-specific retinoid x receptor α (RXRα)-deficient mouse model in the year 2000 and has since uncovered novel nuclear receptor-regulated pathways in metabolism and detoxification. Her lab has identified hepatic genes and pathways regulated by the retinoid x receptor and its heterodimeric partners. Deactivation of those processes leads to metabolic disease development and carcinogenesis. Through using bioinformatics and machine learning approaches, her lab uncovered novel biomarkers and treatment targets, leading to drug discovery for metabolic disease and liver cancer treatment. Her lab is one of the first to reveal gender differences in the gut microbiota, potentially accounting for gender differences in metabolic liver disease development. She pioneered in proposing precision dietary treatment and using probiotics and prebiotics to treat metabolic liver diseases. Dr. Wan’s research program reveals a fundamental relationship between nutrition, gut microbiome, and inflammation-driven carcinogenesis in the digestive tract. Dr. Wan has produced more than 220 peer-reviewed publications. In the past year, her lab has contributed to three novel liver cancer treatment options in preclinical models. Dr. Wan is a University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory of Medicine at UC Davis, where she is also the Vice Chair for Research and the Co-Leader of the Cancer and Microbiome Initiative for the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Professor Huiping Zhou, Ph.D., Virginia Commonwealth University, USA

Dr. Huiping Zhou is a Tenured Full Professor at the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), and a Research Career Scientist at Richmond Veterans Medical Center.

Dr. Zhou received her BS and MS in Pharmacology and Biochemistry from China Pharmaceutical University. She pursued her Ph.D. at the College of Pharmacy, University of Kentucky, from 1993-1998. After her post-doctoral training in the Department of Internal Medicine/GI Division at VCU, she joined the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and Lipid Research Group at VCU as a faculty member in 2004. She was promoted to Full Professor with Tenure in 2016. Her research group is mainly focused on studying the molecular mechanisms involved in liver pathophysiology with a specific interest in ER stress, inflammation, bile acids, and sphingolipids in various liver diseases. She has published more than 180 Peer-reviewed papers, review articles, and book chapters.  Dr. Zhou’s expertise and contributions have been recognized by her election as a Fellow of both the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases and the American Gastroenterology Association. Her research has garnered continuous support from the NIH, the Veteran Merit Review Award, and other funding agencies since 2005. She has played integral roles in scientific review, serving as a standing member of the Gastroenterology Study Section for the VA Merit Review and NIDDK HBPP and offering her expertise as an ad hoc reviewer for numerous NIH study sections and international funding agencies. She is an Associate Editor for Cell  & Bioscience, Digestive Liver Disease, and Liver Research. She is a current Editorial board member for Hepatology, World Journal of Gastroenterology, and Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, etc.

Professor Alfred Sze-Lok Cheng, Ph.D., The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China

Alfred Cheng is a Professor of the School of Biomedical Sciences and Assistant Dean in Research of the Faculty of Medicine at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). He completed his Ph.D. under the mentorship of Prof. Joseph Sung at CUHK and his postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Prof. Tim Huang at The Ohio State University. His research aims at advancing the basic understanding and precision immunotherapy of hepatocellular carcinoma. His multi-disciplinary collaborative team has employed the cutting-edge single-cell multi-omics and AI innovation to understand tumor adaptation to immune-checkpoint blockade and identify the cellular and molecular mechanisms of immunotherapeutic resistance. His recent works on the development of effective and durable combination immunotherapies have been published and highlighted in top journals of the field such as Gut, Journal of Hepatology, and Science Translational Medicine. He was the recipient of the Most Promising Young Investigator Award by the HK Government (2014) and CUHK (2015, 2019), and the 10th HMRF Anniversary Award in Breakthrough Research by the Food and Health Bureau of HK Government (2021). One of his recent research projects was named among the top ten Hong Kong Innovation and Technology News 2023.

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Submission Guidelines

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This Collection welcomes submission of Research article, Research highlight, Review etc. Should you wish to submit a different article type, please read our submission guidelines to confirm that type is accepted by the journal. 

Articles for this Collection should be submitted via our submission system, Editorial Manager. Please select the appropriate Collection title “Dietary Contributions to Hepatic Diseases and Cancer" from the dropdown menu.

Articles will undergo the journal’s standard peer-review process and are subject to all the journal’s standard policies. Articles will be added to the Collection as they are published.

The Editors have no competing interests with the submissions which they handle through the peer-review process. The peer-review of any submissions for which the Editors have competing interests is handled by another Editorial Board Member who has no competing interests.