Obesity Complications Reversible, Researchers Say

Obesity and related health complications, including insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, could be reversed by blocking a specific protein secreted by fat cells, according to a team of researchers from the U.S. and Australia.

fat_mom_walking_jpgObesity often leads to insulin resistance, which in turn can lead to type 2 diabetes. Now, a team of American and Australian researchers has uncovered a protein secreted by fat cells that, when blocked, could reverse health complications associated with obesity—including reducing insulin resistance.

The protein is called pigment epithelium derived factor, or PEDF. According to a recent report in the journal Cell Metabolism, the researchers think that blocking the action of PEDF may reverse some of the problems that come with obesity.

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Fat cells are known to release PEDF into the bloodstream, so a typical obese person often has high blood PEDF levels. This PEDF sends a signal to other body tissues, causing insulin resistance in the muscle and liver – and, eventually, type 2 diabetes.

But that’s not all that PEDF can do. When hit by PEDF molecules, the body’s fat cells release fatty acids into the bloodstream, shooting the levels of fats in the blood, or blood lipids, way higher.

And high blood lipid levels have been strongly associated with complications such as cardiovascular disease.

But there’s good news. The research team found that treatments designed to block the action of PEDF in obese mice lowered the animals’ blood lipid levels and decreased their cells’ insulin resistance.

While far from a cure, these anti-PEDF drugs could in time become part of a program of treatment for obese patients suffering from type 2 diabetes or other co-morbidities of obesity.

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