Scientists have identified a way to block the process by which obesity leads to diabetes, clogged arteries, heart disease, and autoimmune disorders. The discovery, reported by University of Tokyo researchers in the journal Cell Reports, centers on the damaging immune response obesity triggers that causes health problems — and points the way to potentially stop it.
The key, researchers said, may be to block an important element known as AIM — short for apoptosis inhibitor of macrophage — in the bloodstream and, ultimately, the inflammation it causes.
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"Our report for the first time explains how obesity causes an initial autoimmune response … and also defines a key molecule in this autoimmune process," said lead researcher Toru Miyazaki.
"Suppression of AIM appears to intercept two different obesity-associated pathological immune responses," the researchers wrote. "Thus, AIM inhibition potentially could be used as a therapy to prevent not only insulin resistance and metabolic disorders but also autoimmunity under obese conditions."
The team’s conclusions are based on studies of mice fed a high-fat diet, but they believe the biological processes are the same in humans.
Miyazaki said researchers now hope to begin human studies that could lead to the development of a new AIM-targeted obesity therapy.
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