Fruit fly study reveals molecular link between obesity, heart disease

November 3rd, 2010 - 1:18 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Nov 3 (ANI): Scientists at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute have created a simple model using fruitflies to link high-fat diet, obesity and heart dysfunction.

They discovered that a protein called TOR influences fat accumulation in the heart and that manipulating TOR protects the hearts of obese flies from damage caused by high-fat diets.

In this study, flies fed a high-fat diet of coconut oil became obese and exhibited many of the same secondary symptoms as obese humans, including heart dysfunction.

Sean Oldham and colleagues generated flies that lowered TOR activity. By inhibiting TOR (or boosting the fat-digesting enzyme), the researchers reduced fat accumulation in the heart and improved the cardiac health of otherwise obese flies.

“These results open the possibility that we can intervene with the effects of obesity by targeting TOR and other proteins it regulates - either directly in fat or in a specific organ like the heart,” said co-author Rolf Bodmer.

“One thing we’d like to know next is if fats themselves are toxic to the heart, or is it the byproducts of their metabolism that are harmful?” said post-doctoral researcher Dr. Birse.

The study is published November 3 in the journal Cell Metabolism. (ANI)

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