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Obesity chokes up the cellular power plant
Date:3/12/2008

The machinery responsible for energy production in fat cells is working poorly as a result of obesity. Finnish research done at the University of Helsinki and the National Public Health Institute shows that this may aggravate and work to maintain the obese state in humans.

Studying rare cases of young (25 year old) identical twins with large differences in bodyweight a Finnish research group has shown that already in the very early stages of obesity, clear changes in the function of the cellular mitochondria can be observed. Mitochondria are responsible for the energy production in cells and their dysfunction may work to maintain and worsen obesity. Surprisingly, the genes most drastically affected by obesity were ones involved in the breakdown of a class of amino acids known as branched-chain amino acids. These changes in the obese twins were clearly associated with pre-diabetic changes in sugar metabolism and the action of the hormone insulin.

The research is published in the latest edition of the science journal PLoS-Medicine (published and freely available online 11th of March).

Along with all its associated ailments, obesity is an ever increasing health concern. While healthy eating habits and exercise are important, genes do play their own important part in the development of obesity.

Identical twins share all the same genes and almost always are also identical in weight. Studying identical twins that do differ in weight is the best approach we have to get at the mechanisms involved in the interplay between genes and environment that result in obesity, explains research scientist Kirsi Pietilinen from the department of Public Health at the University of Helsinki, Finland. In a large collection of 650 pairs of Finnish twins born between the years 1975 and 1979, the researchers were able to identify only 18 pairs that at the age of 25 had developed more than a 10 kg (22 lb) difference in weight. The body composition and m
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Contact: Kirsi Pietilinen
kirsi.pietilainen@helsinki.fi
358-505-992-295
University of Helsinki
Source:Eurekalert

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