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The Leptin Link to Inflammation, Heart Disease

You may recall an extensive interview I did recently with Dr. Ron Rosedale, a pioneer in the research of leptin, a powerful, influential hormone produced by fat cells that works with insulin to control the quality of one's metabolism and, to a significant extent, the rate of metabolism via nervous system control. After scientists discovered leptin more than a decade ago, the perception of body fat has changed from a "storage depot" for energy to an actual endocrine organ that influences other bodily functions, particularly the brain.

Leptin, along with this increasingly accepted view of fat as an organ, has everything to do with new research by Wake Forest University scientists who found inflammatory proteins also produced by fat may be linked to risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and how the body responds to insulin.

Researchers studied the presence of two inflammation-promoting proteins (interleukin 6 and tumor necrosis factor alpha) and a third that spurs blood clots (plasminogen activator inhibitor 1) generated by fat tissue and present in the development of atherosclerosis, along with health-promoting hormones leptin and adiponectin, found in small samples of subcutaneous fat from 20 post-menopausal women between ages 50-70 (prime candidates for metabolic syndrome).

Higher levels of both inflammation-promoting proteins were found in 15 patients. Additionally, eight female patients who were diagnosed with metabolic syndrome had levels of adiponectin that were about a third lower than the remainder of the women who didn't have the condition.

American Journal of Physiology April 2005, Volume 288, Issue 4:E741-E747

EurekAlert March 28, 2005

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