"Take two cheeseburgers and call me in the morning," may sound likefar-fetched medical advice. After all, high fat foods can worsenblockages in blood vessels. But a new study in the October 17 issue ofThe Journal of Experimental Medicine shows that high fat foods can, atleast in the gut, soothe inflammation. This action may stop immunecells from attacking food as a foreign invader.
Eating -- particularly eating fat-rich foods -- causes cells in thesmall intestine to produce a hormone called cholecystokinin, or CCK.CCK stimulates digestion and gut peristalsis (the motion that propelsfood along the digestive tract), and also triggers satiation -- thefull feeling that prompts you to stop eating.
The study by Luyer and colleagues shows that fat-induced CCK can alsodampen inflammation in the gut, as rats fed a high-fat diet wereprotected against lethal bacteria-induced shock whereas those fed alow-fat diet were not. CCK sent signals to the brain through the vagusnerve, the nerve that provides the electrical regulation for manyinternal organs, including the gut and the heart. In response to CCK,vagus nerve endings in the gut released a neurotransmitter calledacetylcholine. Acetylcholine then bound to proteins on immune cells andturned the cells off.
The authors think this pathway might explain why the immune systemdoesn't react to food proteins and normal gut bacteria as if they wereforeign invaders. They also suggest that triggering this fat-drivenchain of events in patients might provide a way to reduce inflammatorycomplications after surgery.
Materials provided by Journal of Experimental Medicine. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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