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Fat: It isnt always bad for the heart

INDIANAPOLIS Unwanted fat may have a bigger effect on the heart than physicians previously thought.

Researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine have discovered that cells in human fat actually may help the body grow new blood vessels to repair both muscle and heart tissue. These cells, called stromal cells, are immature fat cells. Their findings are reported in the March 1 online issue of Circulation, the scientific journal of the American Heart Association.

Jalees Rehman, M.D., principal author of the paper and a fellow at IU's Krannert Institute of Cardiology and the Indiana Center for Vascular Biology and Medicine, said fat may be a "renewable resource" for individuals with poor circulation. Although he does not promote obesity, Dr. Rehman said stromal cells have properties that can have a therapeutic effect on individuals with heart disease, chronic angina, leg cramping and other conditions caused by poor circulation.

"A lot of people can grow their own blood vessels and when they have blockages in their arteries, their bodies naturally compensate," said Dr. Rehman. "People who cannot grow blood vessels are the ones who may benefit from this research. An example would be individuals who have severe chest pains from angina, which is caused by reduced blood flow to the heart."

Another key group of individuals that could benefit from delivery of their own readily available stromal cells are those with legs cramps or those who are facing leg amputations due to poor circulation, said Dr. Rehman.

Fat contains large numbers of stromal cells, which have stem cell-like properties, said Keith L. March, M.D., Ph.D., principal investigator of the study and director of the Indiana Center for Vascular Biology and Medicine and Cryptic Masons Medical Research Foundation Professor.

Stem cells are nature's building blocks for tissue and are most commonly found for medical purposes in bone marrow and umbilical cor
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Contact: Mary Hardin
mhardin@iupui.edu
317-274-7722
Indiana University
1-Mar-2004


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