DALLAS – April 26, 2012 – In a study that will be published tomorrow in the April 27 issue of Cell, clinical study, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have demonstrated for the first time that the heart can regulate energy balance throughout the body, a finding that according to scientists involved in the study may point to more effective treatments for obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
Obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes are prevalent in the U.S. affecting tens of millions of people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the study using mice fed a high-fat diet, researchers found that manipulating a heart-specific genetic pathway prevented obesity and protected against harmful blood-sugar changes associated with type 2 diabetes.
Dr. Eric Olson, chairman of molecular biology at U.T. Southwestern and senior author of the study commented, “Obesity, diabetes, and coronary artery disease are major causes of human death and disability, and they are all connected to metabolism. This is the first demonstration that the heart can regulate systemic metabolism, which we think opens up a whole new area of investigation.”
The research was supported, in part, by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Donald W. Reynolds Center for Clinical Cardiovascular Research, the Robert A. Welch Foundation, the Fondation Leducq-Transatlantic of Excellence in Cardiovascular Research Program, and the American Heart Association-Jon Holden DeHaan Foundation.