Researchers make a case for free fatty acids

Oct 22, 2013

The current global epidemic of obesity-linked diabetes and its associated consequences -cardiovascular, neurological and renal diseases - is a growing public health problem for which therapeutic options are limited.

In obesity, fatty acids, derived mostly from adipose tissue, alter lipid metabolism in other tissues such as liver and skeletal muscles. Both impaired fatty acid metabolism and glucose are hallmarks of diabetes.

In a recent study in the journal Biochemistry, a research group led by James A. Hamilton, PhD, professor of physiology, biophysics and radiology at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), applied novel fluorescent methods to measure the rate by which fatty acids bind to and move across the fatty acid membrane to become metabolized.

"Our study shows that fatty acid entry into cells occurs by diffusion without catalysis by a previously described as a fatty acid transport protein. However, this protein promotes intracellular metabolism and storage," said Hamilton. "With this advance in basic science, new drugs can be designed that target the exact mechanism more precisely than currently available drugs."

Previous research has shown that glucose transport under the control of insulin is mediated by a called GLUT4. However, how fatty acids enter into cells has been an important unsolved problem, especially whether there are gatekeeper plasma membrane proteins that regulate fatty acid translocation across the membrane, thereby controlling the supply of fatty acids to the interior of the cell. Although several proteins postulated to be fatty acid transporters have now been shown to have other roles, the mechanistic roles of the protein CD36 have remained elusive and are widely debated.

After measuring the products of fatty acid metabolism over time, the researchers found that CD36 enhances into triglycerides (fat deposits), without increasing fatty acid translocation across the membrane in a cell line that does not normally synthesize triglycerides. Thus, CD36 increases fatty acid uptake by increasing intracellular metabolism, which promotes diffusion of into cells.

Explore further: High serum omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid content protects against brain abnormalities

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Gene links obesity and immunity

Aug 16, 2013

Auckland scientists have discovered a gene that links the immune system with obesity and potentially a new pathway to fight the worldwide obesity epidemic.

Insulin secretion disrupted by increased fatty acids

Sep 09, 2013

Patients with type 2 diabetes have increased levels of circulating glucose and fatty acids, which lead to disease complications. In healthy individuals, β cells within pancreatic islets release insulin in response to glucose ...

Fatty acids could aid cancer prevention and treatment

Aug 01, 2013

Omega-3 fatty acids, contained in oily fish such as salmon and trout, selectively inhibit growth and induce cell death in early and late-stage oral and skin cancers, according to new research from scientists ...

Recommended for you

Two teams pave way for advances in 2D materials

1 hour ago

This month's headlines on two-dimensional polymers showed noteworthy headway. "2-D Polymer Crystals Confirmed At Last," said Chemical & Engineering News. "Engineers Make the World's First Verified, 2-Dimensional P ...

Nature inspires a greener way to make colorful plastics

19 hours ago

Long before humans figured out how to create colors, nature had already perfected the process—think stunning, bright butterfly wings of many different hues, for example. Now scientists are tapping into ...

New catalyst converts carbon dioxide to fuel

21 hours ago

Scientists from the University of Illinois at Chicago have synthesized a catalyst that improves their system for converting waste carbon dioxide into syngas, a precursor of gasoline and other energy-rich products, bringing ...

Bullet 'fingerprints' to help solve crimes

21 hours ago

Criminals don't just have to worry about their own fingerprints these days: because of a young forensic scientist at The University of Western Australia, they should also be very concerned about their bullets' ...

User comments : 0