Not all fat is created equal

August 27, 2008

A Temple University study finds fat in obese patients is "sick" when compared to fat in lean patients.

When our bodies don't work properly, we say we're sick. A study published in the September issue of Diabetes finds that the same could be said for fat tissue found in obese patients. The cells in their fat tissue aren't working properly and as a result, are sicker than cells found in lean patients' fat tissue.

Lead author Guenther Boden, M.D. theorizes that "sick fat" could more fully explain the link between obesity and higher risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Researchers from the departments of endocrinology, biochemistry and surgery at the Temple University School of Medicine took fat biopsies from the upper thighs of six lean and six obese patients and found significant differences at the cellular level.

"The fat cells we found in our obese patients were deficient in several areas," said Boden, Laura H. Carnell Professor of Medicine and chief of endocrinology. "They showed significant stress on the endoplasmic reticulum, and the tissue itself was more inflamed than in our lean patients."

Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is found in every cell and helps synthesize proteins and monitor how they're folded. The stress that Boden describes causes the ER in fat cells to produce several proteins that ultimately lead to insulin resistance, which has been found to play a major role in the development and progression of obesity-related conditions.

The National Institutes of Health recently reported that each time a body mass index (BMI) over 25 is raised by one point, the risk for diabetes increases 25 percent and the risk for heart disease increases 10 percent.

Reducing weight can help reduce stress on the ER, which can lower the risk of insulin resistance and the resulting conditions. Currently Boden and his team are looking at whether free fatty acids are a potential cause for this ER stress.

Source: Temple University

Explore further: Very high-calorie diets show how overeating may lead to diabetes

Related Stories

Very high-calorie diets show how overeating may lead to diabetes

September 9, 2015
Everyone knows that high-calorie diets are tied to obesity and, too often, to type 2 diabetes. Now, a small study suggests that gorging on food can quickly tip the body into a "pre-diabetic" state.

Recommended for you

Groundbreaking investigative effort identifies gonorrhea vaccine candidates

September 19, 2017
Researchers at Oregon State University have identified a pair of proteins that show promise as the basis for a gonorrhea vaccine.

Snail fever progression linked to nitric oxide production

September 14, 2017
Bilharzia, caused by a parasitic worm found in freshwater called Schistosoma, infects around 200 million people globally and its advance can lead to death, especially in children in developing countries.

Systems analysis points to links between Toxoplasma infection and common brain diseases

September 13, 2017
More than 2 billion people - nearly one out of every three humans on earth, including about 60 million people in the United States - have a lifelong infection with the brain-dwelling parasite Toxoplasma gondii.

Study clears important hurdle toward developing an HIV vaccine

September 13, 2017
An international team of researchers has demonstrated a way of overcoming one of the major stumbling blocks that has prevented the development of a vaccine against HIV: the ability to generate immune cells that stay in circulation ...

As 'flesh-eating' Leishmania come closer, a vaccine against them does, too

September 13, 2017
Parasites that ulcerate the skin, can disfigure the face, and may fatally mutilate its victim's internal organs are creeping closer to the southern edges of the United States.

Promising clinical trial results could give doctors a new tool against drug-resistant strains of malaria parasite

September 13, 2017
Tulane University researchers have developed a new drug that is effective against non-severe cases of malaria, according to results from an FDA-supervised clinical trial published in the latest issue of The Lancet Infectious ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.