Faulty Fat Sensor Implicated in Obesity and Liver Disease

20 Feb 2012 --- The researchers analysed the gene for GPR120 in 6,942 obese people and 7,654 controls to test whether differences in the code that carries instructions for making the protein contribute to obesity in humans.

Feb 20 2012 --- Defects in a protein that functions as a dietary fat sensor may be a cause of obesity and liver disease, according to a study published in the journal Nature, led by researchers at Imperial College London. The findings highlight a promising target for new drugs to treat obesity and metabolic disorders.

The protein GPR120 is found on the surface of cells in the gut, liver and fat tissue and allows cells to detect and respond to unsaturated fatty acids from the diet, especially the omega-3 fatty acids which are believed to have a beneficial impact on health. Scientists found that mice deficient in GPR120 were more prone to developing obesity and liver disease when fed a high-fat diet. They also found that people with a certain mutation in the gene encoding GPR120, which stops the protein from responding to omega-3 fatty acids, were significantly more likely to be obese.

In the gut, when unsaturated fatty acids from food bind to GPR120, this stimulates the release of hormones that suppress appetite and stimulate the pancreas to secrete insulin. When fat cells sense high levels of fat in the blood through GPR120, it stimulates them to divide to produce more fat cells to store all the fat, reducing the risk of fatty liver and furring of the arteries. This mechanism could be an important pathway for bringing about some of the healthy effects of omega-3s.

When they were fed on a high-fat diet, mice that lacked GPR120 not only became obese but also had fatty livers, lower numbers of fat cells, and poor control of blood glucose. The researchers believe that mice that are deficient in GPR120 have difficulty storing excess fat in fat tissue. Instead, their bodies store fat in areas where it can cause health problems, like the liver, the muscles and in the walls of arteries. In humans, this pattern of obesity is associated with type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

The study involved scientists in the UK, France and Japan. It was led by Professor Philippe Froguel, from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London.

"Being overweight is not always unhealthy if you can make more fat cells to store fat," said Professor Froguel. "Some people seem to be unable to do this, and instead they deposit fat around their internal organs, which is very unhealthy. Our study suggests that in both mice and humans, defects in GPR120 combined with a high-fat diet greatly increase the risk of this unhealthy pattern of obesity. We think GPR120 could be a useful target for new drugs to treat obesity and liver diseases."

The researchers analysed the gene for GPR120 in 6,942 obese people and 7,654 controls to test whether differences in the code that carries instructions for making the protein contribute to obesity in humans. They found that one mutation that renders the protein dysfunctional increases a person's risk of obesity by 60 per cent. The researchers think this mutation mimics the effect of a bad diet lacking in unsaturated omega-3 fat.

Related Articles

Health & Nutrition News

Happy Meals' Bill Could Improve Healthfulness of Fast Food Meals for Kids in NYC

01 Sep 2015 --- A bill to improve the nutritional value of fast food restaurant meals marketed to children--like McDonald's Happy Meals--could have a wide enough impact to reduce calories, fat, and sodium, according to a new study led by researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center.

Health & Nutrition News

Fish Oil-Diet Benefits May be Mediated by Gut Microbes

31 Aug 2015 --- Diets rich in fish oil versus diets rich in lard produce very different bacteria in the guts of mice, reports a study from Sahlgrenska Academy published in Cell Metabolism. The researchers transferred these microbes into other mice to see how they affected health. The results suggest that gut bacteria share some of the responsibility for the beneficial effects of fish oil and the harmful effects of lard.

Business News

Research Indicates Food Craving Is “Hard-Wired” in the Brain

31 Aug 2015 --- An international group of researchers have found that food craving activates different brain networks between obese and normal weight patients. This indicates that the tendency to want food may be ‘hard-wired’ into the brain of overweight patients, becoming a functional brain biomarker.

Food Research

New Microbiome Institute Created in Ireland

31 Aug 2015 --- APC, the national centre for excellence in food and medicine research, has announced the creation of 50 additional hi-tech jobs in Cork, Ireland. The new jobs have arisen largely from the capacity of APC to attract new industrial partnerships. Commenting on this achievement, Minister for Agriculture, Food, the Marine and Defence, Mr Simon Coveney TD, said “these 50 jobs come on top of the 90 existing positions in the APC.”

More Articles
URL : http://www.nutritioninsight.com:80/news/Faulty-Fat-Sensor-Implicated-in-Obesity-and-Liver-Disease.html