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Researchers identify role for protein linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes
Date:12/17/2012

ody stores fat in the white adipose tissue, and, ideally, individuals burn any excess calories through exercise and a healthy diet. The current research findings suggest that manipulating components of mitochondria in fat cells can be an effective way to funnel excess calories into "good" locations. This storage then thwarts their negative effect on other internal organs like the liver in which excess fat accumulation is toxic.

The obese mice in this study weighed 120 to 130 grams (4.23 to 4.58 ounces), whereas a normal adult mouse weighs 25 to 30 grams (.88 to 1.06 ounces). This difference is the equivalent of a 150-pound person increasing his or her weight to 700 pounds.

The researchers were careful to clarify that the findings were not meant to encourage obesity, even though the obese mice were considered metabolically healthy. The study instead provides a clearer understanding of the mitochondrion's importance to the metabolic dysfunction that is characteristic of obese patients and those with type 2 diabetes.

"These results taught us a great deal about how fat cells sense, store, and burn energy," said Dr. Christine Kusminski, a postdoctoral researcher in Internal Medicine who served as the study's first author. "By learning more about the underlying mechanisms, we hope to develop ways to target these pathways for future drug development."

The researchers now hope to translate these findings into a clinical setting. The staff of the Touchstone Center is devoted to the study of cells and tissues that either contribute to or are affected by diabetes and related diseases, including the physiology of adipose tissue.


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Contact: Remekca Owens
remekca.owens@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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