Location of Body Fat Can Increase Hypertension Risk

Body.Overweight.Obese2People with fat around their abdominal area are at greater risk of developing hypertension when compared to those with similar body mass index but fat concentrations elsewhere on the body, according to a study published today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Obesity is a known risk factor for hypertension, or high blood pressure, and it is widely reported that the location of fat on a person’s body can lead to increased risk of other health issues like heart disease and cancer. However, the relationship between hypertension and overall obesity versus site-specific fat accumulation is unclear.

For this study, 903 patients enrolled in the Dallas Heart Study were followed for an average of seven years to track development of hypertension. Hypertension was classified as a systolic blood pressure of greater or equal to 140, diastolic blood pressure of greater or equal to 90, or initiation of blood pressure medications. Patients also received imaging of visceral fat, or fat located deep in the abdominal cavity between the organs; subcutaneous fat, or visible fat located all over the body; and lower-body fat.

“Generally speaking, visceral fat stores correlate with the ‘apple shape’ as opposed to the ‘pear shape,’ so having centrally located fat when you look in the mirror tends to correlate with higher levels of fat inside the abdomen,” said senior author Aslan T. Turer, M.D., M.H.S., a cardiologist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

At the end of the study period, 25 percent of patients developed hypertension. While higher BMI was associated with increased incidence of hypertension, when abdominal fat content, overall fat content and lower-body fat content were factored in, only abdominal fat remained independently associated with hypertension.

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Source: American College of Cardiology. “Location of body fat can increase hypertension risk.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 September 2014.

Seeking a Cure for Obesity

Body.Overweight.Obese2Obesity and diabetes are among the fastest growing health problems in the world, and the hunt is in for a pill that can fight the problem. Now a Danish/British team has come up with a smart tool that will speed up the scientific hunting process, and we may be one step closer to a pill against obesity.

The body has a variety of functions that decide if we get overweight or not. For instance hormones control our appetite and the uptake of food. In recent years science has taken on the quest of investigating these physiological functions and finding a medical way to fight obesity.

One way that has attracted scientific interest is to work with a special protein, that can stimulate different physiological activities such as the production of appetite controlling hormones and hormones that control the intestinal uptake of food.

The particular protein is found in the cell membranes in intestines, in immune cells and in fat, and it is called FFA4. The protein is activated by long-chain free fatty acids released from the food such as omega-3 fatty acids. When this happens, it releases hormones that inhibit our appetite and increase sugar uptake from the blood.

Molecules can activate proteins, so the job is “just” to find the right molecule.

“We have developed a computer model of FFA4 that can help us to select the correct molecules for synthesis by first testing if they bind in the computer model. This way we can test thousands of molecules in a very short time before going into the laboratory. This will speed up the process of finding the right compounds that can be developed to efficient drugs against obesity or diabetes”, says postdoc Bharat Shimpukade from Department of Physics, Chemistry and Pharmacy at University of Southern Denmark. The model has been confirmed and refined by detailed experimental studies.

“I have been looking for a couple of months now, and I hope to be able to continue till I find the perfect molecule that can lead to a new cure”, says Bharat Shimpukade.

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Source: Medical News Today.

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Novel Approach to Accelerate Metabolism Could Lead to New Obesity Treatment

Body.Overweight.Obese2By manipulating a biochemical process that underlies cells’ energy-burning abilities, investigators at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) have made a novel discovery that could lead to a new therapy to combat obesity and diabetes. Published in the journal Nature, the new findings show that reducing the amount of nicotinamide N-methyltransferase (NNMT) protein in fat and liver dramatically reduces the development of obesity and diabetes in mice.

“With this discovery, we now have a means of metabolic manipulation that could help speed energy production and lead to weight loss,” explains senior author Barbara Kahn, MD, Vice Chair of the Department of Medicine at BIDMC and George Richards Minot Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Our findings are particularly exciting because the antisense oligonucleotide [ASO] technology we used to inhibit the NNMT gene in our study is already being used to treat other diseases in humans.”

The new findings hinge on a biochemical mechanism known as a futile cycle, in which cellular reactions are sped up, thereby generating more energy. “We all know people who can seemingly eat whatever they want and not gain weight,” explains Kahn. “Part of the reason for this natural weight control owes to basal cellular metabolism – the body’s inherent rate of burning energy. A futile cycle is one way to speed up energy utilization in cells.”

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Source: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “Novel approach to accelerate metabolism could lead to new obesity treatment.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 April 2014.