Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and German researchers claim to have found evidence of fat cells in the abdomen "communicating" with bodily organs and setting in motion a variety of risky chronic diseases.
The discovery, boffins believe, will lead to finding a way to influence this pathway in reducing the development of diabetes, heart disease and other results of too much abdominal fat.
Dr. Assaf Rudich, senior lecturer from BGU's clinical biochemistry department, and colleagues from the University of Leipzig have just published an important paper on the topic in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Fat tissue in the overweight and obese is an active tissue that secretes multiple compounds and communicates with other tissues, such as the liver, muscles, pancreas and brain.
"Normal communication is necessary for optimal metabolism and weight regulation. However, in obesity, fat (adipose) tissue becomes dysfunctional, and miscommunicates with the other tissues. This places fat tissue at a central junction in mechanisms leading to common diseases attributed to obesity, like Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases," explains Rudich.
As fat cells store increasing amounts of fat they become overgrown, suggest researchers. This may cause a reduction in the delivery of oxygen to the tissue, causing the inflammation and death of individual cells. In addition, high levels of nutrients such as glucose and fatty acids can also result in increased metabolic demands, and this in itself can cause cellular stress.
The BGU and Leipzig teams arranged for the collection of fat tissue samples from people undergoing abdominal surgery.