Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Molecular techniques are 'man's new best friend' in pet obesity research

Date:
April 11, 2013
Source:
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
Molecular biology technologies are making the mechanisms underlying the pet obesity epidemic more easily understood.

According to the World Health Organization, more than two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. And it's not just humans who are packing on the pounds. Our furry companions are plagued by an obesity epidemic of their own. More than 50 percent of the dogs and cats in the United States are overweight or obese.

Related Articles


In a new paper on pet obesity in the Journal of Animal Science, University of Illinois professor of animal and nutritional sciences Kelly Swanson and his colleagues describe how nutrients and biological compounds in foods can affect gene expression in animals. Their field, called nutrigenomics, offers new insights into the why and how of companion animal obesity.

There are many reasons for the uptick in pet obesity, but they stem from the domestication of cats and dogs, Swanson said. Because most pets no longer hunt or compete for their food and do not mate -- as a result of having been spayed or neutered, the typical dog or cat of today has a much smaller need for energy than the typical wild dog or cat of yesterday, he said.

When a person or an animal consumes more food than the body needs, the excess energy is converted into fat that is stored in adipose tissue. These fats can then be converted back to an energy source during fasting or times of food scarcity.

Adipose tissue secretes more than 50 substances known as adipokines, cell-signaling molecules that are involved in metabolism, immunity and inflammation, the authors write. Two of these adipokines, leptin and adiponectin, increase or decrease, respectively, within obese or insulin-resistant subjects.

The excess adipose tissue that develops in pets often leads to chronic disease and a shorter lifespan, Swanson said. While a new diet or exercise regime may help relieve some of these symptoms, a better understanding of the molecular underpinnings of pet obesity could further increase the quality of life for household animals.

"There are a lot of issues that contribute to pet obesity, but we're focusing on the animal biology side of it and trying to use some of these tools to learn things we couldn't learn in the past," he said.

New tools that allow the researchers to determine how pet obesity affects gene expression within these animals offer promising new insights. These new approaches mark a huge change from the traditional approach to studying obesity, said Maria de Godoy, a postdoctoral researcher in the Swanson lab.

"What we are trying to do is change the emphasis of how to look at obesity," she said. "Our focus is to manage obesity, but if we can, the ideal situation is to prevent it." De Godoy believes nutrigenomics are the key to unlocking the best ways to treat pet obesity.

"Pet owners see the animals just putting on weight, but metabolically speaking, there's a lot of stress on the animal (that is carrying excess weight). The genomic measures are really interesting because we can understand how they change if the animal becomes obese," de Godoy said. "We want to know at what point we can intervene and hopefully prevent the development of obesity or help the animals so that they don't have the complications that they currently do."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. R. C. de Godoy, K. S. Swanson. Nutrigenomics: Using gene expression and molecular biology data to understand pet obesity. Journal of Animal Science, 2013; DOI: 10.2527/jas.2012-5860

Cite This Page:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Molecular techniques are 'man's new best friend' in pet obesity research." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130411143058.htm>.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2013, April 11). Molecular techniques are 'man's new best friend' in pet obesity research. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130411143058.htm
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Molecular techniques are 'man's new best friend' in pet obesity research." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130411143058.htm (accessed March 28, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Lioness Has Rare Five-Cub Litter

Raw: Lioness Has Rare Five-Cub Litter

AP (Mar. 27, 2015) — A lioness in Pakistan has given birth to five cubs, twice the usual size of a litter. Queen gave birth to two other cubs just nine months ago. (March 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 26, 2015) — Using motion tracking technology, researchers from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) are trying to establish an optimum horse riding style to train junior jockeys, as well as enhance safety, health and well-being of both racehorses and jockeys. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bear Cubs Tumble for the Media

Bear Cubs Tumble for the Media

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Mar. 26, 2015) — Two Andean bear cubs are unveiled at the U.S. National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Alicia Powell reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Botswana Talks to End Illegal Wildlife Trade

Botswana Talks to End Illegal Wildlife Trade

AFP (Mar. 25, 2015) — Experts are gathering in Botswana to try to end the illegal wildlife trade that is decimating populations of elephants, rhinos and other threatened species. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
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

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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