Back to basics: Researcher takes a closer look at hormone secreted by fat cells

Sep 16, 2010 By Sathya Achia Abraham

Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine researcher and clinician Edmond P. Wickham III, M.D., is examining how fat cells may directly contribute to health problems related to being overweight.

Prior to 1995, it was believed that fat tissue was just an area for storage, but researchers now know that it is an active, endocrine organ secreting many different hormones and substances into the blood that can contribute to the development of health problems.

Through a National Institutes of Health Career Development award, Wickham, an assistant professor in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism in the Departments of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, is examining adiponectin, a hormone secreted by fat cells that packs a beneficial punch - it has anti-diabetic and anti-inflammatory properties.

For two years, Wickham has been looking at alterations in this hormone in children and adolescents to determine how these alternations may possibly contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes and the initial vascular damage that can lead to future cardiovascular disease.

Although adiponectin is made and released into the blood by the , levels of this beneficial hormone are often low in patients who are overweight or obese.

According to Wickham, low levels of adiponectin can already be seen in children and adolescents who are obese, said Wickham. Furthermore, using an ultrasound to image the of obese adolescents, previous research has shown that their blood vessels are already going through changes that would predict there is ongoing damage even though they are many years away from developing clinically significant cardiovascular disease.

“Unless something changes, the damage will continue,” Wickham said.

Fortunately, levels of adiponectin appear to increase with weight loss and improved physical fitness, said Wickham. Moving forward, Wickham and his team hope to learn more about specific ways that raising levels of adiponectiin may prevent or reverse evidence of vascular damage early in life.

“Understanding how adiponectin helps the body repair damaged blood vessels could lead to the development of novel therapies to prevent incipient cardiovascular disease in children and young adults, as well as new treatment modalities for established cardiovascular disease,” he said.

Explore further: A better way to track emerging cell therapies using MRIs

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Fat-cell hormone linked to kidney disease

Apr 22, 2008

Reduced levels of a hormone produced by fat cells and linked to the development of insulin resistance may also be related to a higher risk of kidney disease, according to a study led by researchers at the University of California, ...

Pediatric obesity may alter thyroid function and structure

Dec 03, 2008

In addition to its strong associations with hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes, pediatric obesity may induce alterations in thyroid function and structure, according to a new study accepted for publication ...

Recommended for you

A better way to track emerging cell therapies using MRIs

13 hours ago

Cellular therapeutics – using intact cells to treat and cure disease – is a hugely promising new approach in medicine but it is hindered by the inability of doctors and scientists to effectively track the movements, destination ...

New biomedical implants accelerate bone healing

20 hours ago

A major success in developing new biomedical implants with the ability to accelerate bone healing has been reported by a group of scientists from the Department of Restorative Dentistry, University of Malaya. ...

User comments : 0