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Saturated Fat Overload causes Cells to Die – Increased risk for Diabetes


January 19th, 2006

Saturated Fat Overload causes Cells to Die – Increased risk for Diabetes

measuring body fat

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis say that too much saturated fat spurs a protein to kill mammalian cells. 

The researchers were able to stop the production of the protein called EF1 A-1 which thrives with high levels of saturated fat palmitate.  When the production of the protein was stopped, it slowed the cell death.  If the cell was abundant with the palmitate fat, the cells would produce the EF1 A-1 protein and this caused these cells to die rapidly.


When the cells are exposed to high fat it causes the cell to become altered.  The typical American diet has an excess of saturated fats and this study reinforces that too much is bad for the body.  It puts a person at a much greater risk of developing diabetes.  Researchers are starting to correlate the importance of lowering fatty acids and triglycerides as part of the prevention for diabetes.

"When lipids (fats) accumulate in tissues other than adipose tissue, cellular dysfunction or cell death results," said senior author Jean Schaffer, M.D., an associate professor of medicine, molecular biology and pharmacology. "For example, preliminary studies on animals suggest that the accumulation of fat in the pancreas contributes to the development of diabetes, and accumulation of lipids in skeletal muscle of leads to insulin resistance."


In a previous study Schaffer’s laboratory had developed a transgenic mouse that had accumulated fat in the heart muscles.  The fat caused the cells to die and this led the mouse to develop heart failure and premature death.  The EF1 A-1 protein was almost 3 times higher in the affected animals’ hearts.

When the researchers removed the EF1 A-1 protein, these cells were protected from any excess fat causing cell death.  It also caused the cells to last when being attacked by highly reactive oxygen molecules.  The researchers believe that the EF1 A-1 protein more than likely add to the oxidative stress which is caused from the high lipid levels.

"Cells have a lot of mechanisms for incorporating fatty acids into storage forms, for metabolizing them or for using them in cellular membranes," Schaffer said. "But saturated fats like palmitate are poorly stored in the tiny fat droplets normally found in most cells and therefore are more likely to enter into pathways that lead to cell death such as the one in which EF1A-1 is involved."


The researchers also discovered other proteins that may cause toxicity with excess fat in the cells.  This has spawned new research projects in understanding the roles of each of these proteins.

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By Nicole Wilson
Best Syndication Staff Writer


common keywords and misspellings:  dibetes proteen cel toxic death satuated saturated-fat fatty-acid ecess exessive satuated-fats


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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                                            Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:48 PM