Gene links obesity and immunity

Auckland scientists have discovered a gene that links the immune system with obesity and potentially a new pathway to fight the worldwide obesity epidemic.

Researchers from The University of Auckland found that the gene was a vital part of the immuno-metabolic reaction in cells, connecting the immune response to infection with . The work has been published in the latest issue of Cell Metabolism, regarded as the top international journal in the field.

"New research into obesity and its associated diseases has revealed activation of the immune system, and subsequent inflammation, as a major driver of these conditions", says Professor Phil Crosier from the University's Department of Molecular Medicine and Pathology.

This has led researchers to investigate connections between the traditionally distinct disciplines of immunity and metabolism; a field of research termed 'immunometabolism', he says.

"One way that metabolic and immunological pathways intersect during inflammation is the influence of intracellular metabolism on ."

The research, led by Dr Chris Hall in Professor Crosier's laboratory, used live imaging within transparent zebrafish embryos to uncover a new mechanism that controls immune cell function by the activity of a mitochondrial enzyme (immunoresponsive gene 1) that helps regulate mitochondrial metabolism of .

"Fatty acids are used to fuel the inflammatory response via the mitochondria (which are the energy factories in cells)," says Professor Crosier. "In , fatty acids can enhance the metabolic and immune function of cells, mediated through this gene."

"We have shown this dependence on for immune cell function also occurs in mammalian ", he says. "We believe this pathway represents a target to manipulate the interface between the immune and metabolic systems that may prove useful for treating obesity-associated diseases."

"We can use this to find drugs that regulate or target this new pathway in the fight against obesity."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Growing a blood vessel in a week

2 hours ago

The technology for creating new tissues from stem cells has taken a giant leap forward. Three tablespoons of blood are all that is needed to grow a brand new blood vessel in just seven days. This is shown ...

Testing time for stem cells

5 hours ago

DefiniGEN is one of the first commercial opportunities to arise from Cambridge's expertise in stem cell research. Here, we look at some of the fundamental research that enables it to supply liver and pancreatic ...

Team finds key signaling pathway in cause of preeclampsia

Oct 23, 2014

A team of researchers led by a Wayne State University School of Medicine associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology has published findings that provide novel insight into the cause of preeclampsia, the leading cause ...

Rapid test to diagnose severe sepsis

Oct 23, 2014

A new test, developed by University of British Columbia researchers, could help physicians predict within an hour if a patient will develop severe sepsis so they can begin treatment immediately.

User comments