NEW DISCOVERY ALTERS THINKING ON CHOLESTEROL AND FAT
UPTAKE IN THE GUT
Offers Hope for Controlling Obesity, Atherosclerosis
Scientists have found a protein in the small intestine that may force medical science to re-think long-held beliefs about how the human body absorbs cholesterol and fat, according to a report in the journal Biochemistry. It had been assumed that such lipids simply diffused from the small intestine into the blood stream, a process that is very difficult to control. Researchers say the newly discovered protein is directly involved in facilitating uptake of dietary lipids and offers a better target for drugs to combat obesity and heart disease.
The finding is detailed in both the web and Dec. 22 print editions of the peer-reviewed journal Biochemistry, published by the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.
The small intestine is the human body's main entrance for dietary cholesterol and fat. A 1990 Biochemistry paper by some of the current authors suggested a protein might be directly involved in the transport, but none have been found until now. "The identification of such a protein opens the very real possibility that we can inhibit the activity of the protein and thereby significantly reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood," claims biochemist Michael Phillips, Ph.D. of MCP Hahnemann University in Philadelphia.
Though the researchers admit they don't yet know exactly how the newly found
works, lead author Helmut Hauser, Ph.D. of the Swiss Federal Institute of
Zurich compares it to a bus stop on the road leading through the
He says that cholesterol and fat molecules ride on bile salt "buses" and "when
to (the transport) protein, it's like the bus driving to the bus stop. While
they stop, the
passengers get out of the bus and into your body." Hauser adds that an
could be made to fit perfectly in those "park
Contact: Charmayne Marsh
American Chemical Society