Health Watch - Fat: Healthy Obesity?

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about the health impact of fat. One reason that being overweight is a health risk is the inflammation that occurs when fat cells get too large. Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found that one particular protein may lead to this inflammation.

Fat cells are supported by a kind of matrix made of connective tissue. If there’s too much connective tissue, or if the tissue gets too rigid, fat cells can’t expand, and inflammation results. The researchers found that mice that don’t produce a protein that makes up this matrix may be obese without the negative health effects. Dr. Philipp Scherer, a
UT Southwestern diabetes researcher, says this protein can’t be eliminated from humans, but learning how the protein works and how the process can be manipulated may lead to ways to prevent inflammation in fat cells and the problems that can lead to, such as insulin resistance and diabetes.

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UT Southwestern’s clinical services in endocrinology.


April 2009

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