Protein May Be Factor in Obesity

Discovery could lead to new treatments for condition

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THURSDAY, July 31, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- A newly identified receptor protein that's present on fat cells may play a role in obesity, says a study by researchers at McGill University Health Center in Montreal.

The discovery of this new protein, called C5L2, may indicate that there is more to weight control than diet and exercise, and it could have implications for the many people who are obese.

"We have identified a receptor protein on fat cells that, when stimulated, may increase the amount of lipid stored in fat reservoirs. This protein, C5L2, made by fat tissue, is on the surface of fat cells and binds a specific hormone to increase fat production," researcher Dr. Katherine Cianflone says in a news release.

She and her colleagues found the protein is a cell surface receptor that binds acylation-stimulating protein (ASP), a protein known to affect fat production.

"People who are obese have high levels of ASP. One potential key to battling this condition is to disrupt the ASP-C5L2 complex. In the future, we may be able to slow down this fat-producing process by identifying molecules that will block C5L2 activity," Cianflone says.

The study appears in a recent issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Obesity is at epidemic levels in all age groups in North America. People who are overweight or obese are at increased risk for heart disease, diabetes and cardiovascular problems. The best way to reduce those risks is to lose weight.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about obesity.

SOURCE: McGill University Health Center, news release, July 24, 2003

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