Double trouble

Absence of a protein can cause increase in bad fat as well as decrease in good fat...leading to obesity

Balance
Balance of good fat and bad fat is maintained by a protein. New research establishes how this balance is maintained so that obese individuals can be assisted in their weight-control goals

Obesity may not be just about overeating and a lack of exercise. Sometimes the body goes haywire, causing it to store more fat and burn less energy. According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, when protein p62 is missing in fat tissue, the body’s metabolic balance shifts—inhibiting “good” fat, while favouring “bad” fat. These findings suggest that p62 may be a promising target for obesity control.

“Without p62 you’re making lots of fat but not burning energy, and the body thinks it needs to store energy,” said Jorge Moscat, Ph.D., Sanford-Burnham professor. “It’s a double whammy.” Moscat led the study with collaborators at Helmholtz Zentrum München in Germany and the University of Cincinnati.

Earlier studies by Dr Moscat had established that lack of p62 causes obesity but they were grey areas in the research – like the system affected by the absence of the p62 protein and therefore the mechanism of this double whammy. The new research pinpoints the location to the fat tissues and explains the mechanism through which the protein acts as “a master regulator” of normal fat metabolism.

According to Moscat, the discovery of p62’s role in brown [good] fat tissue is encouraging, because fat tissue is much more accessible than other parts of the body—the brain, for example—for potential drug therapies. “This makes it easier to think about new strategies to control obesity,” he said.

Read the full news on the Sanford-Burnham website.

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