Public Release:  Story ideas from the Journal of Lipid Research

Overcoming metabolic syndrome

American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

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IMAGE: Lipid accumulation (stained in red) of both Normal (left) and SCD1-deficient (right) FH mice fed a Western diet. view more

Credit: Journal of Lipid Research

Metabolic syndrome, a collection of related abnormalities like hypertension, obesity, insulin resistance, and excess cholesterol, poses a major risk for developing heart disease and diabetes. Individuals with a genetic predisposition to high cholesterol (familial hyperlipidemia or FH) can be especially vulnerable to metabolic syndrome, but researchers have now found that blocking the enzyme stearoyl-CoA desaturase-1 (SCD1), which helps synthesize unsaturated fatty acids, greatly improves the profile of FH-mice affected by metabolic syndrome.

Previous mouse studies on SCD1 found that blocking this enzyme could reduce obesity in normal mice; Michael Hayden and colleagues wondered whether such a protective effect would extend to mice with excess cholesterol levels.

They mimicked FH in mice by knocking out the LDL receptor, causing a cholesterol buildup. When fed a high-fat Western diet, these mice develop obesity and diabetes in adulthood. However, when the researchers also knocked out SCD1, the mice improved dramatically, accumulating far less fat in their liver, which in turn led to fewer triglycerides in the blood, increased insulin sensitivity, and less weight gain. These results highlight that SCD1 might be a potential drug target for FH individuals who have developed other components of metabolic syndrome

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CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Michael Hayden, University of British Columbia and Child & Family Research Institute, Vancouver; Phone: 604-875-3535, email: mrh@cmmt.ubc.ca

The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is a nonprofit scientific and educational organization with over 11,900 members in the United States and internationally. Most members teach and conduct research at colleges and universities. Others conduct research in various government laboratories, nonprofit research institutions and industry. The Society's student members attend undergraduate or graduate institutions.

Founded in 1906, the Society is based in Bethesda, Maryland, on the campus of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. The Society's purpose is to advance the science of biochemistry and molecular biology through publication of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the Journal of Lipid Research, and Molecular and Cellular Proteomics, organization of scientific meetings, advocacy for funding of basic research and education, support of science education at all levels, and promoting the diversity of individuals entering the scientific work force.

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