New role for a famous gene? PCSK9 may control the birth of new fat cells

October 5, 2016

Why do some obese people develop diabetes, heart disease and other life-threatening conditions, while others do not? Experts increasingly believe that part of the answer lies in how fat is stored. When existing fat cells expand to store more fat, this tends to generate damaging inflammation. However, when new fat cells are born to store the fat, there seems to be less collateral damage. New research led by Dr. Alexander Sorisky and Dr. Teik Chye Ooi sheds light on this process. Their team fed whipping cream to “normal” human volunteers as well as to those with certain natural variations in a gene called PCSK9. After the fatty drink, the normal white blood cells inhibited the birth of new fat cells, while the mutated white blood cells did not. This research reveals a possible novel role for the well-studied PCSK9, which is the target of several cholesterol-lowering drugs recently approved for humans. See Obesity for details.

Authors: Gagnon A, Ooi TC, Cousins M, Favreau C, Henry K, Landry A, Sorisky A

Funders: The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, The Ottawa Hospital Foundation

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