Coffee is good for the liver! This is one of the many interesting messages that RESIST researcher Professor Dr. Markus Cornberg and PD Dr. Benjamin Maasoumy advised the approximately 320 guests who had come to “Schloß Herrenhausen” for their lecture on the evening of January 22. The RESIST researcher from the MHH Clinic for Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Endocrinology, and his colleague fascinated their audience in an entertaining and really funny way with a humorous stage dialogue as part of the “Herrenhausen Late” event series of the Volkswagen Foundation.

Based on a fictitious medical history of the patient Gisela, who came to the MHH with jaundice, they explained diverse functions of our central metabolic organ and gave insights how liver diseases can be detected, especially jaundice. During their talk both speakers constantly involved the audience, who became increasingly enthusiastic about this organ. They illustrated that overweight can lead to fatty liver and consequently to cirrhosis of the liver, as well as the excessive consumption of sugar, especially fruit sugar.  “Moderate alcohol consumption – up to 125 millilitres of wine a day for women, five evenings a week at most – is something the liver can cope with quite well. For men it is twice as much,” says Professor Cornberg. “But smoking is definitely bad,” adds PD Dr. Maasoumy. Of course, our gens also play a role: “Some gene mutations lead to the fact that you can drink more without getting a fatty liver. But there are also mutations where the opposite is the case,” explains Dr. Maasoumy.

Viruses can also cause liver inflammation, there are hepatitis A, B, C, D and E. “In the 1980s, the hepatitis C virus was not yet known, but today, hepatitis C can even be cured. The MHH has played a major role in this success story,” Professor Cornberg summarises. As part of RESIST, which is mainly located at the MHH, he is working on a Hepatitis C vaccine in a team with other experts such as Professor Dr. Thomas Pietschmann. The speaker of the Cluster of Excellence RESIST, Professor Dr. Thomas Schulz, was also among the guests. He addressed a short greeting to the audience and clarified the work of the cluster: “Some people become only mildly ill when they ’catch’ viral or bacterial infections, whereas others are affected much more severely. But what are the reasons for these differences? And how can the course of a disease be predicted and personalized treatments developed? These questions are being addressed by the RESIST Cluster of Excellence team”, he said.

Professor Cornberg question “Who eats ground pork?” was affirmed by numerous guests from the audience. “Consumption of mead can lead to hepatitis E infections, one in five people have had one. This is not a huge drama for healthy people, but people with a weak immune system should rather avoid ground pork,” said Dr. Maasoumy. “I really liked the dynamic between the two and enjoyed listening to their dialogue,” says 30-year-old student Ben. “The two doctors addressed many exciting topics and explained everything very clearly. I particularly liked the fact that the common thread was a patient story,” says 26-year-old PhD student Anna. 30-year-old Björn found the lecture very entertaining, amusing and vivid. He was particularly interested in RESIST research and the fact that coffee is healthy for the liver. Why can’t you go wrong with three or four cups of coffee a day?? “The beneficial effect of coffee on the liver probably depends on the mix it contains – for example, its polyphenols play a role,” explains Professor Cornberg.

After the lecture, some guests considered having their liver values checked while enjoying a glass of water or wine – or the alcohol-free cocktail “Gisela”.