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Studies: Body fat has a significant impact on heart health


Researchers were able to prevent heart failure by controlling adipose tissue metabolism

Through a targeted intervention in fat metabolism, researchers at the Institute for Pharmacology at the Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin were able to successfully reduce the risk of developing heart failure. The scientists found that body fat also affects cardiac function at the molecular level. The release of fatty acids from body fat could have a significant impact on heart health.

Scientists at the Berlin Institute may have developed a new therapy for heart failure by controlling fat tissue metabolism. Researchers have long suspected that body fat also influences cardiac function at the molecular level. The central process in this area is the release of fatty acids from the adipose tissue. The researchers were able to switch off a certain enzyme in animal experiments, whereupon the treated animals were almost completely protected against the occurrence of heart failure. The results of the study were recently published in the specialist journal "PLOS Genetics".

Heart failure is a serious illness

Heart failure is a chronic condition that should not be underestimated, as more than one in three patients with heart failure die within five years of suffering. The research team led by Professor Dr. Ulrich Kintscher at the Charité was able to link changes in the metabolism of adipose tissue with the risk of heart failure. "We were able to show that body fat changes the lipid composition of the heart and probably influences the heart function through these changes," Kintscher explains in a press release from the Charité about the study results.

An enzyme is critical to the process

In animal experiments with mice, the researchers intervened in their fat metabolism and switched off a gene that is responsible for the enzyme adipocyte triglyceride lipase (ATGL) in adipose tissue. The mice were then almost completely protected from the occurrence of a weak heart. In further tests, blood samples from patients with and without heart failure were examined. The scientists were able to determine that the lipid changes in the blood corresponded in some aspects to the changes that could also be observed in the hearts of the animals.

The fat tissue should be kept in mind

In upcoming clinical studies, the researchers would like to deepen their results and investigate whether the gene responsible for the release of the fatty acids and the enzyme ATGL can be used specifically for drug treatment. "For the patients, this means that one should keep an eye on the adipose tissue when making diagnostic and therapeutic decisions, even if one actually wants to treat a heart disease," concludes Kintscher. The results are now to be checked in further patient analyzes in collaboration with cardiologists from the Charité. This could make the importance of adipose tissue for heart failure even more important in everyday clinical practice. (vb)

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