Obesity and NAFLD-Promoting Enzyme Isolated by Researchers

In the ongoing global quest to pin down what factors worsen non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), insulin resistance and obesity, German researchers think they may be one enzyme closer.

Scientists at he German Institute for Human Nutrition Research (DIfE), a partner of the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD), have located DPP4, an enzyme they say amped up in the presence of a high-fat diet in mice and could potentially create or worsen an insulin resistance or fatty liver condition.

Brainstorming the Study

Researchers heading up the team said they thought of DPP4 due to DPP4 inhibitors increasingly being used to treat diabetes, a condition which has been linked in studies to insulin resistance and NAFLD.

For the study, the scientists fed two groups of mice a high-fat diet. One group produced an increase in DPP4 due to a genetic modification, while the other did not.

Mice fed high-fat kibble showed increased disease if they already had the enzyme-promoting gene, researchers said.

Results Reveal a Link

Tellingly, the mice that already overproduced DDP4 gained one-third more weight than the other group over the course of six months, with groups being given equal high-fat feed.

This could mean the enzyme itself is a predictor, even more so than an active and fast-rate weight gain, the researchers said.

“In combination with our observations from additional human and cell studies, these results indicate that increased DPP4 production by the liver is the cause rather than the consequence of a fatty liver and insulin resistance,” Annette Schürmann, who headed the study.

Implications of the Study

Though genetically prone humans might also be headed faster for NAFLD even at a roughly equal weight, and genetically targeted individuals may gain more weight in general, this doesn’t mean to give up and let the chips fall as they may, weight and insulin resistance experts warn.

NAFLD is on the rise, and to date, there is no test for DDP4 overproduction-prone genes that is covered by most insurance without strong medical backing. This means the tests are not only expensive for most patients but may appear excessive to prescribing physicians, particularly as an overweight condition has been linked to NAFLD and insulin resistance already.

Instead, researchers caution people to watch their weight, sleep, stress levels and diet, to lose weight if the pounds are creeping up. In addition, any adult should monitor more obvious markers by routine blood testing, including an annual fasting blood glucose screening, to see whether markers for looming disease are present.

If you are overweight and/or already have an extenuating health condition, request testing as frequently as your physician recommends and follow guidelines to keep your condition in check.

Researchers remain hopeful that studies such as the above will reveal more and more about health and will guide science toward an increasing understanding of obesity, insulin resistance and related conditions in the future.



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