Fat may promote inflammation, new study suggests

s. Women in this age group are at increased risk for metabolic syndrome, a cluster of symptoms that increases the risk for heart disease. The syndrome is diagnosed when someone has at least three of the following: abdominal obesity, high triglycerides, low levels of high-density liprorotein ("good") cholesterol, high blood pressure and increased levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood.

In 15 study participants without diabetes, higher levels of the "bad" proteins, interleukin 6 and tumor necrosis factor alpha, were associated with a lower ability to respond to insulin and use glucose. On the other hand, higher levels of the "good" protein adiponectin were associated with an increased ability to use glucose. Eight women who were diagnosed with metabolic syndrome and had multiple risk factors for heart disease had levels of adiponectin that were 32 percent lower than the 12 women who didn't have the disorder.

"This suggests that low production of adiponectin in subcutaneous fat is linked with an elevated risk of heart disease," said You.

The findings are significant because of the prevalence of both heart disease and obesity in the United States. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer in the United States, causing about 79,000 more deaths per year than the next five leading causes of death combined.

"It's possible that modifying the inflammatory proteins through medication could also lower the risk of heart disease," said Barbara Nicklas, Ph.D., senior researcher and an associate professor of internal medicine. "The findings point to a possible treatment target for new drugs. Our goal is to learn more about how these proteins are produced and how levels can be changed."

Nicklas and colleagues have already begun a study to test whether diet and exercise will affects levels of the proteins. Scientists already know that weight loss and physical activity can reduce inflammation, but don't know if this happens because the production of

Contact: Karen Richardson
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center

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