Fatal signals from the streaky fat: Adipose tissue produces messenger substances

Adipose tissue is not only an energy store, but also acts as an organ that produces various messenger substances: Stomach fat in particular sometimes sends out fatal signals, the full implications of which are only just being recognized by medicine. Among other things, the fatty tissue in the abdominal cavity releases immune messenger substances that cause a kind of chronic inflammation and thus promote the development of  arteriosclerosis  . It also reduces the effect of insulin, which   promotes the development of diabetes .

Adipose tissue acts as an organ in its own right throughout the body

20 to 30 percent of Germans are affected by the “affluence syndrome” – a time bomb: “It is known that  obesity promotes high blood  pressure , blood sugar and lipid metabolism disorders, but it is only recently that we have recognized the mechanisms and the fact that it is primarily the fatty tissue in of the abdominal cavity is a high risk,” explains Prof. Dr. Harald Klein, Director of the Medical Clinic I of the Bergmannsheil. One of the new findings is that signals from adipose tissue also affect the brain, muscles and blood vessels. Belly fat in particular (so-called visceral fat) produces more messenger substances that also play a role in inflammation, e.g. TNFα and interleukin 6.

fatal consequences

It is assumed that this chronic inflammatory reaction promotes the development of arteriosclerosis and increases the risk of diabetes by reducing the effectiveness of insulin. A further complication is that with increased fatty tissue in the abdominal cavity, the concentration of another messenger substance, which is mainly formed in the remaining fatty tissue, decreases: adiponectin.

“Adiponectin is anti-inflammatory in the blood vessels and increases the insulin effect, so that it may also become of therapeutic importance,” says Prof. Klein. Finally, substances are formed in the visceral fat tissue that can influence the coagulation system and blood pressure.

Many aspects: sleep problems, fatty liver, blood lipid levels

Another scientific aspect is also of great interest to the researchers: in the search for the age gene, they discovered that the insulin receptor  plays  a major role, at least in worms. If it or downstream mechanisms don’t work, the animals get older. “This fits well with results from other studies that show that dietary restriction is one of the few ways to prolong life,” says Prof. Klein. Irrespective of the increased risk of disease caused by the metabolic syndrome, the increased fatty tissue in the abdominal cavity could be a life-shortening factor.

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