Food and Behaviour Research

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31 December 2014 - Medical News Today - Children's national researchers study broad impact of obesity on diseases

Researchers have uncovered evidence that obesity may have a broader impact than previously thought on inflammatory and other diseases, with belly fat more responsible than other areas of the body.

In an extensive and far-reaching study, the Children's National team found that cell particles known as exosomes, which often play an important role in regulating body functions, are more uncontrolled in obese individuals, leading to toxicity in other organs. Exosomes are present in virtually all bodily fluids, including blood and urine.

"We've known for a long time that belly fat is bad, and now we're learning why it's so bad," Dr. Freishtat says. "The belly fat expands, and it becomes inflammatory. More fat is worse, in that it becomes even more inflammatory, and theoretically, it releases more of the bad exosomes."

Obesity prompts "significant changes in the function of fat cells. By releasing abnormal exosomes, they are behaving in a way that otherwise they would not be behaving," says Dr. Freishtat. "In this way, we are taking a major step toward understanding how obesity changes the whole body function."

The researchers' report noted, "Obesity is a systemic inflammatory state associated with chronic inflammatory and metabolic diseases, impacting nearly every organ system within the body. Obesity is frequently complicated by comorbid conditions," the researchers stated, "yet how excess adipose (body fat) contributes is poorly understood." Exosome cells in body fluids may "carry pro-inflammatory factors" as a result of obesity.