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Study identifies genetics of fat metabolism, red wine link

CORVALLIS, Ore. A new study has found that a gene called SIRT1 can reduce the development of new fat cells and increase the metabolism or use of fat within existing fat cells.

SIRT1 is the topic of considerable recent research, and other studies have also shown that its activity level can be significantly increased by the presence of a compound found in red wine.

The new research, done by scientists from Oregon State University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Ottawa, was recently published in the journal Nature.

It may help explain, researchers say, why moderate consumption of red wine appears to reduce deaths from heart disease, as has been suggested by some demographic studies.

The study was done with mice as a research model, and a remaining challenge will be to see if the same results are observed in a higher vertebrate model, including humans.

The research outlined the processes of fat formation and usage at a cellular and genetic level. It also analyzed the metabolic function of resveratrol, a polyphenol and antioxidant found at high levels in grape skins.

"When cells were exposed to resveratrol, our studies showed a pretty dramatic reduction in the conversion to fat cells and a lesser but still significant increase in the mobilization of existing fat, or the rate at which the cells metabolized stored fat," said Mark Leid, a professor of pharmacology in the OSU College of Pharmacy. "This clearly could be one of the explanations for the health benefits that some researchers believe can be linked to moderate red wine consumption."

A range of studies, the OSU and MIT researchers said, have demonstrated that caloric restriction is one of the few proven methods to retard aging, improve cardiovascular health and extend mammalian lifespan.

Research done with yeast has shown that a gene called SIR2 tends to promote longevity, and that yeast cells die prematurely if this gene is deleted, Leid sai
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Contact: Mark Leid
mark.leid@oregonstate.edu
541-737-5809
Oregon State University
7-Jul-2004


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