Scientists identify molecule behind fat deposition and insulin release

Scientists at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden have identified a molecule which plays a key role in both the regulation of body fat and the release of insulin from the pancreas. Two papers presenting the results are published online by the journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Both studies involve a receptor molecule called ALK7. ALK7 is found in several organs involved in regulating the metabolism, including the pancreas, adipose tissue, the gut and the brain. However, the physiological functions of this molecule are not well known.

In the first study, a team led by Carlos Ibáñez studied mice in which the gene responsible for producing ALK7 had been switched off. They found that these mice developed abnormally high levels of insulin in the blood. Over time, this led to a reduction in the body's sensitivity to insulin, impaired glucose tolerance and a condition called liver steatosis, in which the liver accumulates large amounts of fat. v In the second study, the researchers investigated the links between ALK7 and a growth factor called GDF3. The research revealed that when fed a high fat diet, mice lacking ALK7 accumulated less fat and gained less weight than normal mice, even though they ate the same amount of food. The scientists also discovered that GDF3 can send signals via the ALK7 receptor, and mice lacking GDF3 reacted to a high fat diet in the same way as mice lacking ALK7.

"These results show that lack of ALK7 or GDF3 improves energy balance in the body under regimes of high caloric intake," explained Professor Ibáñez, who also led the second study.

The researchers' findings have implications for the development of new treatments for both diabetes and obesity.

"We have shown in animal studies that removing the ALK7 receptor improves insulin release by beta cells in the pancreas, and at the same time decreases fat deposition in the situations of high caloric intake," concluded Professor Ibáñez. "The well known connections between diabetes and obesity make our combined findings quite exciting."

The work was funded in part by a Marie Curie grant from the EU.

For more information, please visit:
http://www.ki.se http://www.pnas.org

Copyright ©European Communities, 2008
Neither the Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, nor any person acting on its behalf, is responsible for the use, which might be made of the attached information. The attached information is drawn from the Community R&D Information Service (CORDIS). The CORDIS services are carried on the CORDIS Host in Luxembourg - http://cordis.europa.eu. Access to CORDIS is currently available free-of-charge.

Most Popular Now

FDA grants Breakthrough Therapy Designation to Pfi…

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) today announced that its investigational Group B Streptococcus (GBS) vaccine candidate, GBS6 or PF-06760805, received Breakthrough Therapy Designat...

Novartis invests in early technical development ca…

Novartis today announced it is investing in next-generation biotherapeutics with the creation of a fully integrated, dedicated USD 300m scientific environment that will b...

Pfizer and BioNTech receive positive CHMP opinion …

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) and BioNTech SE (Nasdaq: BNTX) announced a 30-µg booster dose of their Omicron BA.4/BA.5 bivalent-adapted COVID-19 vaccine (COMIRNATY® Original/Om...

Malaria booster vaccine shows durable high efficac…

Researchers from the University of Oxford and their partners have today reported new findings from their Phase 2b trial following the administration of a booster dose of ...

Strict COVID lockdowns in France improved cardiova…

A new paper in European Heart Journal - Digital Health, published by Oxford University Press, indicates that social-distancing measures like total lockdown have a measura...

U.S. clinical trial evaluating antiviral for monke…

A Phase 3 clinical trial evaluating the antiviral tecovirimat, also known as TPOXX, is now enrolling adults and children with monkeypox infection in the United States. St...

Stem cell-gene therapy shows promise in ALS safety…

Cedars-Sinai investigators have developed an investigational therapy using support cells and a protective protein that can be delivered past the blood-brain barrier. This...

Drug turns cancer gene into "eat me" fla…

Tumor cells are notoriously good at evading the human immune system; they put up physical walls, wear disguises and handcuff the immune system with molecular tricks. Now...

Mucosal antibodies in the airways protect against …

High levels of mucosal antibodies in the airways reduce the risk of being infected by omicron, but many do not receive detectable antibodies in the airways despite three ...

WHO grants prequalification to GSK's Mosquirix - t…

GSK plc (LSE/NYSE: GSK) announced that the World Health Organization (WHO) has awarded prequalification to Mosquirix (also known as RTS,S/AS01), GSK's groundbreaking mala...

Bird's enzyme points toward novel therapies

Thank the rare crested ibis for a clue that could someday help our bodies make better drugs. The species of bird is the only one known to naturally produce an enzyme ...

WHO strongly advises against antibody treatments f…

The antibody drugs sotrovimab and casirivimab-imdevimab are not recommended for patients with COVID-19, says a WHO Guideline Development Group of international experts in...