Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common chronic liver disease worldwide. LiSyM-EMI looks into the transition from steatosis to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) as the disease-defining moment in NAFLD. A systems analysis of these early disease events will be performed to elucidate the molecular mechanisms that trigger disease establishment.
Early disease diagnosis is key to the effective treatment of diseases. Histopathological analysis of human biopsies is the gold standard to diagnose tissue alterations. However, this approach has low … resolution and overlooks 3D (three-dimensional) structural changes resulting from functional alterations. Here, we applied multiphoton imaging, 3D digital reconstructions and computational simulations to generate spatially resolved geometrical and functional models of human liver tissue at different stages of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). We identified a set of morphometric cellular and tissue parameters correlated with disease progression, and discover profound topological defects in the 3D bile canalicular (BC) network. Personalized biliary fluid dynamic simulations predicted an increased pericentral biliary pressure and micro-cholestasis, consistent with elevated cholestatic biomarkers in patients' sera. Our spatially resolved models of human liver tissue can contribute to high-definition medicine by identifying quantitative multiparametric cellular and tissue signatures to define disease progression and provide new insights into NAFLD pathophysiology.