(ORDO NEWS) — We already know that elevated blood fat, often caused by obesity, is not good news for our bodies. However, a new study has revealed previously unknown dangers to our health that may be caused by high levels of these fats in the blood.
Fats cause additional stress on muscle cells, damaging their structure and disrupting their function. Recent studies have shown that these stressed cells also send out a signal that can be passed on to other cells and cause more damage.
These signals take the form of molecules called ceramides. While their normal job is to reduce cellular stress, in long-term metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, they can kill cells and exacerbate disease symptoms.
“While this research is at an early stage, our findings could inform new therapies or therapeutic approaches to prevent the development of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases such as diabetes in people with elevated blood fats in obesity,” says Molecular physiologist Lee Roberts from the University of Leeds in the UK.
Using human skeletal muscle cells designed to mimic those of people with metabolic diseases, the researchers were able to activate ceramide signaling by adding a fatty acid known as palmitate.
When these cells were mixed with non-fat-exposed cells, they interacted with each other, transferring ceramides in packets called extracellular vesicles, which are naturally released from all cells. The same processes were observed in tests on mice and muscle cells taken from human volunteers.
While more research is needed to understand what this newly identified wandering ceramides means, we do know that these molecules can be harmful to the body. Increased blood fat seems to cause cells to share stress with their neighbors.
While the researchers acknowledge that there may be other as yet unknown factors at play, this messaging system is potentially one of the ways obese people develop further complications, such as diabetes, through the stress exchange observed here.
The benefit of discovering this new messaging system is that it could give us a way to prevent these complications from developing by somehow blocking the ceramides. However, this is still a long way off, and more research is needed before we can establish that such a treatment is possible.
According to the researchers, obesity rates have tripled since 1975, and the number of obese adults with elevated blood fat levels is 650 million, according to the latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO).
“As obesity becomes a larger epidemic, the burden of chronic comorbidities such as type 2 diabetes requires new therapies,” says Roberts.
“We hope that the results of our study will open a new avenue for scientific research to help address this growing problem.”
Contact us: [email protected]