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Belly fat or hip fat -- it really is all in your genes, says UT Southwestern researcher
Date:5/14/2010

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Because the fat distribution patterns of male and female mice are similar to those of humans, the researchers used the animals to compare genes from the belly and hip fat pads of male mice, female mice and female mice whose ovaries had been removed a condition that closely mimics human menopause. Waist and hip fat (subcutaneous fat) generally accumulates outside the muscle wall, whereas belly fat (visceral fat), a major health concern in men and postmenopausal women, develops around the internal organs.

In addition to the genetic differences among fat tissues, the researchers found that male mice that consumed a high-fat diet for 12 weeks gained more weight than female mice on the same diet. The males' fat tissue, particularly their belly fat, became highly inflamed, while the females had lower levels of genes associated with inflammation. The female mice whose ovaries had been removed, however, gained weight on the high-fat diet more like the males and deposited this fat in their bellies, also like the males.

"The fat of the female mice whose ovaries had been removed was inflamed and was starting to look like the unhealthy male fat," Dr. Clegg said. "However, estrogen replacement therapy in the mice reduced the inflammation and returned their fat distribution to that of mice with their ovaries intact."

Dr. Clegg said the results suggest that hormones made by the ovaries may be critical in determining where fat is deposited. Her overall goal is to determine how fat tissue is affected by sex hormones and whether it would be possible to develop a "designer" hormone replacement therapy that protected postmenopausal women from belly fat and related diseases such as metabolic syndrome.

Researchers from Oregon Health and Science University, Boston University School of Medicine and the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University also contributed to the study. The study was support
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Contact: Kristen Holland Shear
Kristen.hollandshear@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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