Researchers identify a liver protein in mice regulated by fat content in diet
By: Felicia Breedy
Andrew Butler, PhD of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana was the recipient of an ADA Junior Faculty Award from 2004 to 2006 that helped support this novel finding. The Junior Faculty award was entitled, “Regulation of liver fatty acid metabolism by the melanocortin-4 receptor.” During the investigation, Dr. Butler and his fellow researchers identified a novel mechanism linking weight gain with insulin resistance in mice. His group identified a protein expressed in the liver, adropin, which rises and falls in response to the consumption of high fat foods. Significantly, this protein is directly regulated by the fat content of the diet, and could be the new target for developing medications directed at obesity and metabolic disorders. The results of the study were highlighted in the December 3, issues of Medical News Today.
Dr. Butler and colleagues, conducting their study in obese mice, found that adropin appears to regulate metabolic genes involved in lipid production from carbohydrates. Adropin’s role is further implicated in insulin responsiveness and preventing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (a buildup of fat in the liver). In the study, obese mice did not naturally produce adropin. However, when they were manipulated to overproduce the protein, less fat was present in their liver and they showed signs of enhanced insulin sensitivity. Production and administration of a synthetic version of adropin reversed some of the observed adverse effects of obesity.
The researchers acknowledge that there is still more to learn about adropin, how it works, and whether the results in mice will translate to humans. This effort is being supported by the ADA in the form of a Basic Science Award which began in 2008. The protein has also been identified in the brain which suggests that it could have other functions as well. Further research will focus on whether mice that lack adropin become obese and develop the metabolic syndrome. Study details are published in the December issue of the journal Cell Metabolism.
(Kumar KG, Trevaskis JL, Lam DD, Sutton GM, Koza RA, Chouljenko VN, Kousoulas KG, Rogers PM, Kesterson RA, Thearle M, Ferrante AW Jr, Mynatt RL, Burris TP, Dong JZ , Halem HA, Culler MD, Heisler LK, Stephens JM, Butler AA. Identification of adropin as da secreted factor linking dietary macronutrient intake with energy homeostasis and lipid metabolism. Cell Metabolism. 2008 Dec;8(6):468-81.)
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