Research Report: Hormone fights fat with fat
By Lynne Friedmann
There are two types of body fat: white fat that stores energy and brown fat (packed with blood vessels and mitrochondria) that burns white fat. Long thought to disappear after infancy, brown fat has been rediscovered in adults humans using new imaging technology.
Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute researchers now report the discovery of orexin; a hormone that activates calorie-burning brown fat in mice. Orexin deficiency is associated with obesity, suggesting that supplemental orexin could lead to a new class of fat-fighting drugs focused on peripheral fat-burning tissue rather than the brain’s appetite control center which is the aim of most current weight-loss agents.
The research was conducted at Sanford-Burnham’s Diabetes and Obesity Research Center, in Orlando, Fla., and is reported in the journal Cell Metabolism. News release at bit.ly/okWXeh.
Immune memory where it is needed most
La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology researchers have identified a mechanism that generates protective immune “memory cells” at the body’s mucosal linings, the main entry points for many viruses and other infectious organisms.
The discovery involves a distinct process by the body for establishing strong immunity at the mucosal borders — found in the mouth, intestines, lungs, and other areas — and identification of a molecule that shows when mucosal protective immune cells are in place.
The generation of pre-existing immune memory is the basis for successful vaccination.
Heretofore, the protective quality of most vaccines has been judged by a robust memory T cell response in the blood and lymph nodes which doesn’t necessarily mean protective immunity has been generated in the intestines or at other mucosal borders.
The team conducted experiments in mouse models using Listeria, currently in the news as the bacterial agent in a number of cantaloupe-contamination deaths. Findings are published in the journal Nature Immunology. News release at bit.ly/oDXuID.
High-but-normal blood pressure a stroke risk
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and strokes, but less is known about the health threat posed by “prehypertension,” is clinical category created in 2003 to describe patients whose blood pressure is elevated, but still within normal range.
New insights are now available via a meta-analysis by researchers at the UCSD School of Medicine of published scientific literature seeking to determine the extent of prehypertension risk and whether particular characteristics were associated with higher stroke risk. Their findings: People with prehypertension have a 55 percent higher risk of experiencing a stroke than people without prehypertension.
Combined, the studies reviewed involved more than 518,000 participants from the United States, Japan, China, and India. The results of the analysis held regardless of sex, race-ethnicity, blood pressure type (systolic or diastolic), or the type of stroke documented. Findings published in the journal Neurology. News release bit.ly/qlJTri.
Lynne Friedmann is a science writer based in Solana Beach.
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