White Blood Cell Enzyme Contributes to Inflammation and Obesity, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute Study
Published: Apr 04, 2013
Many recent studies have suggested that obesity is associated with chronic inflammation in fat tissues. Researchers at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute (Sanford-Burnham) have discovered that an imbalance between an enzyme called neutrophil elastase and its inhibitor causes inflammation, obesity, insulin resistance, and fatty liver disease. This enzyme is produced by white blood cells called neutrophils, which play an important role in the body's immune defense against bacteria. The researchers found that obese humans and mice have increased neutrophil elastase activity and decreased levels of a1-antitrypsin, a protein that inhibits the elastase. When the team reversed this imbalance in a mouse model and fed them a high-fat diet, the mice were resistant to body weight gain, insulin resistance (a precursor to type 2 diabetes), and fatty liver disease. Their study appears April 2 in Cell Metabolism.