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The role of adipose tissue in obesity: beta cell crosstalk

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The mechanisms of metabolic disease

Researchers in the EU have taken steps towards understanding obesity by studying the hormone adipokine, and how it influences the human body.


Adipose tissue, the fatty deposits found throughout the body, influences our physiology via hormones called adipokines. However, little is known about the specific interactions of adipokines with other tissues and organs. Since obesity and diabetes both lead to changes in adipose tissue, understanding this process could help curb the recent rise in prevalence of these metabolic diseases. The EU-funded ADIBET (The role of adipose tissue in obesity: beta cell crosstalk) project looked into how adipokines influence various types of cells in the body, particularly beta cells (cells that produce insulin). Researchers will also look at how obesity influences adipokine secretion and other function of adipocytes, the cells that make up adipose tissue. Using animal models of obesity, ADIBET researchers discovered new adipokines that control the increase in beta cells when obesity sets in. This process also revealed proteins that can control the mass of beta cells. Researchers also looked at genes expressed differently in obese or diabetic individuals, to identify possible drug targets. Another finding of the project was that adipokines cause islets of Langerhans (the structures in the pancreas where beta cells are found) to grow. These findings will help researchers to better understand, in detail, what happens to the body of an obese or diabetic person. In the long term, this research will likely provide drug targets or therapeutic solutions for metabolic diseases like diabetes and obesity.


Obesity, adipokine, Adipose tissue, metabolic diseases, beta cells

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