World Hepatitis Day is celebrated on 28 July each year to raise awareness of global burden of viral hepatitis and to take actions in preventing and treating hepatitis. Hepatitis (type A, B, C, D, E) is considered as one of the major public health problems affecting several hundreds of millions of people globally1. Besides, non-viral hepatitis is also commonly affecting people who exposure to chemicals, drugs and heavy alcohol use2.
Viral hepatitis is often caused by virus infection. Hepatitis A and E is caused by respective type of viruses, which usually transmit through contaminated food and drink with fecal matter from an infected person3. While hepatitis B and C is caused by hepatitis B & C virus respectively, which is transmitted through the blood of an infected person3. Hepatitis B and C can also be spread through sexual contact as well3,4,5. While hepatitis D is usually spread through blood-to-blood contact or sexual contact4. Besides, hepatitis can also be caused by non-virus factors such as alcohol use, certain medications, toxins, autoimmune disease and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis2,6.
People often do not know they are infected as it might not have any symptoms. If symptoms appear like headache, fever, muscle pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dark urine and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes), it is recommended to get testing and to receive treatment as soon as possible7.
Blood test is normally used to test whether a person is infected with viral hepatitis. In the blood test, blood sample will be examined in the lab to detect presence of antibodies to the hepatitis viruses. A negative test indicate a normal result while a positive test is considered abnormal. Besides, liver function tests can be performed to look for presence of liver inflammation. Liver biopsy (a test examine liver tissue) and imaging test such as ultrasound, computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be required for more detail examination8.
People diagnosed with chronic hepatitis is normally treated with antiviral medications and liver transplant will be considered for severe cases of liver damage9,10. Although our liver is able to regenerate itself, but it is not invincible. The liver can only withstand limited damage, therefore please do not take our liver for granted. It is better to take care our liver before damage happens.
The liver cell membrane is made up of bilayer of phospholipids. Phoshatidylcholine (PC) is a phospholipid with hydrophilic head (choline, phosphate and glycerol) and hydrophobic tail (2 fatty acids chains). Phoshatidylcholine is essential in facilitating healthy cell growth and repair of liver cells. Phoshatidylcholine act through serving as the building block to the liver cell membranes to restore the liver membrane integrity and reconstitute membrane structure11,12.
Besides, intake of phoshatidylcholine together with therapeutic doses of B vitamins is also very important as B vitamins help to enhance liver detoxification through improving liver metabolism13,14. Those with liver diseases such as chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis usually have disturbances of protein synthesizing function and vitamin utilization, therefore require B vitamins especially B1, B2, B3, B6 and B12 to support the these functions12.
On the other hands, vitamin E is an important lipid-soluble antioxidant. It helps protect membranes from oxidation by neutralizing free radicals produced in the lipid peroxidation chain reaction15. The triple action of phospholipid with added B vitamins and vitamin E is greatly benefits those with fatty liver, chronic hepatitis and liver cirrhosis by effectively improving both their clinical symptoms and also biochemical liver tests12,16.
Prevention is better than cure, therefore supplementing phoshatidylcholine, the key constituent of liver cell membranes, can be a good option in keeping the liver healthy and restoring liver damage.