Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fly study uncovers molecular link between obesity and heart disease

Date:
November 3, 2010
Source:
Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute
Summary:
Researchers show that obesity-induced heart disease can be prevented by reducing the activity of TOR, a nutrient-sensing protein that regulates molecular circuits involved in growth, metabolism and lifespan.

It's no secret that obesity is hard on the heart. More than 30 percent of Americans are obese, and many of them are also at increased risk for cancer, diabetes and heart disease. However, there are numerous causes of obesity and other risk factors for each of these conditions, making it difficult to tease them apart.

At Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute (Sanford-Burnham), a team led by Sean Oldham, Ph.D., and Rolf Bodmer, Ph.D., recently created a simple model to link high-fat diet, obesity and heart dysfunction. Using fruit flies, they discovered that a protein called TOR influences fat accumulation in the heart. Their study, published November 3 in the journal Cell Metabolism, also demonstrates that manipulating TOR protects the hearts of obese flies from damage caused by high-fat diets.

"We noticed previously that reducing TOR had a large number of beneficial effects on aging," explained Dr. Oldham, co-senior author of the study. "We next wanted to look at TOR activity in obesity-related heart disease, but we didn't have a good system. In this study, we establish the fruit fly as a model for obesity caused by a high-fat diet."

The fruit fly model is ideal for studying the heart because most of the basic molecular mechanisms controlling its development are surprisingly similar to those in vertebrates -- even somewhat interchangeable. What's more, it's relatively easy to delete individual genes in the fly, allowing researchers to specifically map out each one's role in heart development and function.

In this study, flies fed a high-fat diet of coconut oil became obese and exhibited many of the same secondary symptoms as obese humans, including heart dysfunction. Then, to determine how TOR regulates the effects of fat on the heart, Dr. Oldham and colleagues generated flies that lowered this protein's activity. TOR normally keeps a damper on an enzyme that breaks down fats. By inhibiting TOR (or boosting the fat-digesting enzyme), the researchers reduced fat accumulation in the heart and improved the cardiac health of otherwise obese flies. The heart-protective results were the same whether TOR was blocked in the whole fly, just in fat tissue or just in heart cells.

According to Dr. Bodmer, co-senior author of the study and professor and director of the Development and Aging Program, "These results open the possibility that we can intervene with the effects of obesity by targeting TOR and other proteins it regulates -- either directly in fat or in a specific organ like the heart."

This fruit fly model will now allow researchers to answer many other questions about diet, obesity and the heart. "One thing we'd like to know next is if fats themselves are toxic to the heart, or is it the byproducts of their metabolism that are harmful?" said Dr. Birse, post-doctoral researcher and first/lead author of the study. "One good thing about using fruit flies is that, in theory, we could feed them whatever we want to screen -- different fatty acids, molecules, drugs, etc. -- to observe their effects on the heart or other systems."

The study was funded by the American Heart Association (AHA), the Ellison Medical Foundation, and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Support for this project was also provided by the Sanford Children's Health Research Center at Sanford-Burnham.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ryan T. Birse, Joan Choi, Kathryn Reardon, Jessica Rodriguez, Suzanne Graham, Soda Diop, Karen Ocorr, Rolf Bodmer, Sean Oldham. High-Fat-Diet-Induced Obesity and Heart Dysfunction Are Regulated by the TOR Pathway in Drosophila. Cell Metabolism, 2010; 12 (5): 533-544 DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2010.09.014

Cite This Page:

Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute. "Fly study uncovers molecular link between obesity and heart disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101102130129.htm>.
Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute. (2010, November 3). Fly study uncovers molecular link between obesity and heart disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101102130129.htm
Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute. "Fly study uncovers molecular link between obesity and heart disease." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101102130129.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued new protocols for healthcare workers interacting with Ebola patients. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Issues New Ebola Guidelines for Health Workers

CDC Issues New Ebola Guidelines for Health Workers

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 21, 2014) The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has set up new guidelines for health workers taking care of patients infected with Ebola. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins