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Findings show insulin -- not genes -- linked to obesity
Date:4/14/2009

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Researchers have uncovered new evidence suggesting factors other than genes could cause obesity, finding that genetically identical cells store widely differing amounts of fat depending on subtle variations in how cells process insulin.

Learning the precise mechanism responsible for fat storage in cells could lead to methods for controlling obesity.

"Insights from our study also will be important for understanding the precise roles of insulin in obesity or Type II diabetes, and to the design of effective intervention strategies," said Ji-Xin Cheng, an assistant professor in Purdue University's Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering and Department of Chemistry.

Findings indicate that the faster a cell processes insulin, the more fat it stores.

Other researchers have suggested that certain "fat genes" might be associated with excessive fat storage in cells. However, the Purdue researchers confirmed that these fat genes were expressed, or activated, in all of the cells, yet those cells varied drastically - from nearly zero in some cases to pervasive in others - in how much fat they stored.

The researchers examined a biological process called adipogenesis, using cultures of a cell line called 3T3-L1, which is often used to study fat cells. In adipogenesis, these cells turn into fat.

"This work supports an emerging viewpoint that not all biological information in cells is encoded in the genetic blueprint," said Thuc T. Le, a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellow at Purdue who is working with Cheng. "We found that the variability in fat storage is dependent on how 3T3-L1 cells process insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas after meals to trigger the uptake of glucose from the blood into the liver, muscle or fat cells."

The findings are detailed in a research paper appearing online in the journal PLoS ONE, published by the Public Library of Science, a non-p
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Contact: Emil Venere,
venere@purdue.edu
765-494-4709
Purdue University
Source:Eurekalert  

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