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Friday, December 20, 2013

Fat Cells Controlling Their Own Destiny: And Yours

Fat cells, called adipocytes produce many molecules that are released into the blood stream and act as hormones. Obesity and dieting and lack of exercise, and genetic tendencies alter the amount of these hormones. The active endocrine molecules will affect how you are able to control your body weight and your cardiovascular heath. In 1994 we discovered that the ob gene mutation can make mice obese. The ob gene regulates on of these molecules from the adipocyte that makes a hormone called leptin. We've struggled to apply that data to humans. Deficiency of leptin can cause obesity. However sustained elevations of leptin can cause diabetic and prediabetic changes, but also make us have uncontrolled eating behavior (hyperphagia), and obese individuals conversely can have resistance to leptin itself that can aggravate insulin resistance and compound obesity problems. Adiponectin is also an endocrine molecule that the adipocytes make. It is so potent that it controls multiple hormonal, metabolic, inflammatory, and neurologic physiology. Too low an adiponectin can lead to type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Some physicians use the levels of these hormones to get an idea of your overall cardiovascular
health and to in context to generate recommendations. Others will actually target normalizing these numbers over time to help regulate our health. The story is actually extremely complex, there are other markers that we will discuss in future posts, but for now, do you know your numbers?

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