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New Clue to Obesity

Study says cellular receptor controls accumulation, use of fat

Please note: This article was published more than one year ago. The facts and conclusions presented may have since changed and may no longer be accurate. And "More information" links may no longer work. Questions about personal health should always be referred to a physician or other health care professional.

THURSDAY, April 17, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- A cellular receptor that controls obesity has been identified by researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California.

This receptor, called PPARd, balances the accumulation and burning of fat in the body. It may prove to be a new target for anti-obesity and cholesterol-fighting drugs. The new research appears in the April 18 issue of Cell.

The researchers found that stimulating PPARd depleted fat deposits in mice. They also found that mice that were deficient in PPARd were prone to obesity.

Young mice with an activated PPARd gene weighed about 20 percent less than normal mice, even though they received the same amounts of the same kind of food. By the time they were a year old, the mice with the activated PPARd gene weighed 35 percent less than normal mice.

The researchers determined that PPARd regulates the rate by which fat is burned to produce heat or to maintain normal cell functions.

"We have long known that excess calories are warehoused in fat tissue for future use. We also know that fat is released and consumed in times when energy is needed, such as from exercise or shivering from cold exposure," researcher Ronald M. Evans says in a news release.

"This study shows us that PPARd is an important regulator of this function. By exploiting PPARd, we hope to design drugs that can control how much fat is stored in the body," Evans says.

More information

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SOURCE: Salk Institute for Biological Studies, news release, April 17, 2003


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