The study has identified a pathway to prevent fat cell fat cells from growing larger that leads to weight gain and obesity.
According to researchers from Washington University in St. Louis U.S., by activating Hedgehog pathway in fat cells in mice they could feed the animals a high-fat diet without making them obese.
Ph.D. Professor Fanxin Long from the Medicine and Developmental Biology Department of Orthopaedics at the Washington University said in a statement that, "Fat gain is due mainly to increased fat cell size".
The researchers managed something for this experiment, known as Hedgehog pathway, which is a signaling system involved in the development of cell throughout the body. the team said that the project succeeded at suppressing the obesity in mice, which represented a feasible pharmaceutical route to the weight condition. The results suggested that after eight weeks of eating the high-fat diet, control animals whose Hedgehog pathways had not been activated became obese.
"More importantly, when we did metabolic studies, we found that the animals with the active Hedgehog pathway not only were leaner, they also had lower blood-glucose levels and were more sensitive to insulin", says Long. "Each fat cell grows bigger so that it can hold larger fat droplets".
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"If we can come up with strategies to carefully target fat cells, then I think activating this pathway could be effective in the fight against obesity", he says. "We gain weight mainly because fat cells get bigger, as opposed to having more fat cells".
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For the animal study, the group of researchers engineered mice with genes that activated the Hedgehog pathway in fat cells when those animals ate a high-fat diet.
According to the researchers, the pathway discovered by the team may act as a new therapeutic target for treating obesity. People with obesity have an increased risk for stroke, heart attack, diabetes and cancer.
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