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A different path to fat-related heart disease
Date:1/18/2011

LA JOLLA, Calif., January 18, 2011 Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. But heart disease is more than just one disease; there are many different 'flavors' that can result from a heart attack, high blood pressure, diabetes or other causes. In lipotoxic cardiomyopathy, for example, heart function is disrupted by fat accumulation in heart cells. Obesity and high-fat diets are major risk factors for lipotoxic cardiomyopathy. A team led by Rolf Bodmer, Ph.D. at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute (Sanford-Burnham) recently unraveled an alternative pathway to lipotoxic cardiomyopathy in fruit flies a genetic mechanism that occurs independently of a diet high in fat. Their study, published in the January 15 issue of Genes & Development, lays the foundation for the development of new ways to combat lipotoxic cardiomyopathy and other types of heart disease.

"It's a well-accepted notion that if you eat too much fatty food and your body can't metabolize it properly, you can become obese and this can lead to lipotoxic cardiomyopathy. Our study shows that there is also an alternative cause of obesity and associated heart problems an imbalance in the fats that normally make up the basic structure of our cells," explained Hui-Ying Lim, Ph.D., post-doctoral researcher and lead author of the study.

In this study, the researchers analyzed mutant fruit flies (called easily shocked mutants) that have abnormally low levels of phosphatidylethanolamine (PE), a type of fat that makes up a major component of cellular membranes in both flies and mammals. They found that these flies compensate for low PE levels by initiating a mechanism for synthesizing fat. In this mechanism, a protein called sterol regulatory element-binding protein (SREBP) turns on genes encoding metabolic enzymes that synthesize more fat.

As a consequence of high SREBP, these PE-deficient mutant flies also had high
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Contact: Josh Baxt
jbaxt@sanfordburnham.org
858-795-5236
Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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