New pathologies linked to obesity identified
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), almost three million people die each year from the effects of overweight and obesity. Studies from recent years have repeatedly shown the connection between obesity, heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer. An international team of researchers has now identified a messenger substance in abdominal fat that promotes chronic inflammation and the development of insulin resistance. If you are overweight, this messenger substance gets into the blood and can release its pathogenic mechanisms there.
The new knowledge lake will be used in the future to develop alternative approaches for the treatment of diseases that are favored by obesity. The disease-causing molecular mechanisms that lead to the overweight-related inflammatory response have so far not been sufficiently understood. The latest research is now providing a great deal of knowledge. The study results were recently published in the journal "Diabetologia".
Protein molecules cause the harmful effect
The scientists were able to document how a particular protein molecule (wingless-type signaling pathway protein-1, in short: WISP1) exerts a direct influence on the effects of insulin in muscle cells and in the liver, adversely affecting them and thereby causing insulin insensitivity. In previous research, the protein molecule WISP-1 has been linked to the regulation of bone growth, the development of some cancers and pulmonary fibrosis.
Protein from the belly fat disrupts the sugar metabolism
"We suspect that increased WISP1 production from belly fat could be a reason why overweight people often have a disturbed glucose metabolism," explains the first author of the study Tina Hörbelt from the German Diabetes Center in Düsseldorf in a press release on the study results. The tests showed a clear connection between the appearance of the protein molecule and changes in blood sugar concentrations as well as changes in the level of the enzyme hemoxygenase-1 (HO-1), which promotes chronic inflammation in obesity.
Poorer oxygen supply for overweight people
"A possible cause for the increased WISP1 production and release from the abdominal fat cells could be the poor oxygen supply (hypoxia) of the tissues", reports Dr. Olga Pivovarova from the German Institute for Nutritional Research Potsdam-Rehbrücke, a senior research scientist. This could lead to chronic inflammatory reactions, said Pivovarova.
Alternative approaches for new areas
Thanks to the new findings, alternative approaches for the treatment of diseases caused by obesity are now possible. "For example, drugs that specifically prevent the WISP1 effect on muscles and liver cells and thus lead to a better insulin effect in these tissues would be conceivable," reports Dr. Natalia Rudovich, senior diabetologist and endocrinologist from Bülach Hospital, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin. However, there is still a long way to go from basic research to an operational therapeutic. Nevertheless, the results have already contributed to a better understanding.
About the metabolic syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is a commonly observed condition that combines obesity (high blood pressure), high blood pressure, insulin resistance in the body's cells, and fat metabolism disorders. This dangerous combination increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer and heart disease. (vb)