Can Obesity-related Diseases Be Fought By Targeting Inflammation?

A molecule naturally occurring in the body can guard against developing obesity-related diseases by slowing, and potentially reversing, inflammation, a new study has found.

Fatty tissue inflammation appears to be a common denominator among obesity-related diseases such as diabetes, liver cirrhosis and chronic kidney disease.

In the sudy, researchers led by Professor Catherine Godson, University College Dublin and Professor Kumar Sharma University of California, San Diego investigated the impact of a lipoxin, and a synthetic version of the molecule, in a laboratory model of obesity.

Lipoxins are molecules that aid in clearing or resolving inflammation, part of the body’s natural response to injury.

First author Dr Emma Börgeson, postdoctoral researcher currently working in the University of California San Diego, said:

“This work aimed to mimic what occurs in the health but becomes subverted in disease. Our findings show that lipoxins reduced the extent of liver and kidney disease caused by a high-fat diet.”

“We found that a particular lipoxin molecule (LipoxinA4) controls various cells of the immune system with the overall impact of reducing inflammation in adipose tissue and, as a result, protecting the body from the damaging effects of systemic diseases that occur as a consequence of obesity.”

The findings correspond with the therapeutic potential of lipoxins, but the team hope to find a workable synthetic alternative since the molecule in its natural state is unstable and expensive to make.

The research demonstrated that 15(R)-Benzo-LXA4, the synthetic analogue of lipoxin, is also active. Furthermore, it is easier to produce and so more cost effective. This opens the way to explore the use of similar molecules with the potential for greater efficiencies and effectiveness while still being easy to produce and economic.

Professor Catherine Godson, Director of the UCD Diabetes Complications Research Centre in UCD School of Medicine and UCD Conway Institute, added:

“While this research study examined the action of lipoxin in a model of obesity, we will now focus on its action in models of chronic kidney disease induced by obesity and diabetes.”

Börgeson, Emma et al.
Lipoxin A4 Attenuates Obesity-Induced Adipose Inflammation and Associated Liver and Kidney Disease.”

Photo: Spike Walker, Wellcome Images