Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Why belly fat isn't all bad

Date:
June 6, 2012
Source:
Loyola University Health System
Summary:
A fatty membrane in the belly called the omentum appears to play an important role in regulating the immune system. The finding could lead to new drugs for organ transplant patients and patients with auto-immune diseases.

A fatty membrane in the belly called the omentum has until recently been considered somewhat like the appendix -- it didn't seem to serve much purpose.

Related Articles


But Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine researchers have found that the omentum appears to play an important role in regulating the immune system. The finding could lead to new drugs for organ transplant patients and patients with auto-immune diseases such as lupus and Crohn's disease.

"We now have evidence that the omentum is not just fat sitting in the belly," said Makio Iwashima, PhD, corresponding author of a study published in the June 6 issue of PLoS ONE. Iwashima is an associate professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology.

The omentum is a membrane that lines the abdominal cavity and covers most abdominal organs. It is a repository for fat tissue.

A research team headed by Iwashima and Robert Love, MD, a world renowned lung transplant surgeon, examined the effect that mouse omentum cells had on T lymphocyte cells from a mouse. T cells are the immune system's first line of defense against infection. They identify, attack and destroy bacteria, viruses and other infectious agents.

Normally, T cells multiply in response to an infectious agent, such as an antibody. But when researchers put omentum cells in with activated T cells that had been exposed to antibodies, the T cells did not multiply as they normally would, but instead died. The omentum cells had this effect only on T cells that had been activated. Omentum cells did not have any effect on inactive T cells.

It appears that omentum cells secrete a substance that tamps down the immune system. This discovery could lead to new drugs that would suppress the immune system with fewer side effects than those caused by immune-suppressing drugs now in use. Such drugs could be used, for example, to suppress the immune system in a patient who has received a lung transplant.

In addition to modulating the immune system, the omentum also appears to play a critical role in regenerating damaged tissues, Iwashima said. The omentum contains mesenchymal stem cells that migrate to the site of an injury and help regenerate tissue. Mesenchymal stem cells are cells that have the ability to develop into various types of specialized cells.

In this study, researchers showed that, in tissue-culture flasks, omentum cells can differentiate into lung-type cells as well as bone cells. Iwashima believes the omentum may be the organ specified for tissue healing and regeneration.

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health and Van Kampen Cardiovascular Research Fund.

Other co-authors, all at Loyola, are Shivanee Shah (first author), Erin Lowery, Rudolf K. Braun, Alicia Martin, Nick Huang, Melissa Medina, Periannan Sethupathi, Yoichi Seki, Mariko Takami, Kathryn Byrne and Christopher Wigfield.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Loyola University Health System. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Shivanee Shah, Erin Lowery, Rudolf K. Braun, Alicia Martin, Nick Huang, Melissa Medina, Periannan Sethupathi, Yoichi Seki, Mariko Takami, Kathryn Byrne, Christopher Wigfield, Robert B. Love, Makio Iwashima. Cellular Basis of Tissue Regeneration by Omentum. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (6): e38368 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0038368

Cite This Page:

Loyola University Health System. "Why belly fat isn't all bad." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 June 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120606193448.htm>.
Loyola University Health System. (2012, June 6). Why belly fat isn't all bad. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120606193448.htm
Loyola University Health System. "Why belly fat isn't all bad." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120606193448.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) The World Health Organization said on Friday that millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines would start being tested in March. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) An emergency room doctor who recently returned to the city after treating Ebola patients in West Africa has tested positive for the virus. He's quarantined in a hospital. (Oct. 24) 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