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How Liver ‘Talks’ to Muscle: A Well-Timed, Coordinated Conversation

Update Date: Oct 23, 2013 03:19 PM EDT
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A new study has uncovered the signal mechanism that determines the way fat storage in the liver communicates with the fat burning in skeletal muscle.

A team of researchers from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), Harvard University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) led a major collaborative research to uncover the real mechanism taking place.

To maintain the overall balance of energy, lipids are produced from the fatty acids. This particular ability is known as de novo lipogenesis and it happens in the liver. On the other hand fatty acids are also burned to generate energy.

“This finding uncovers a joint effort of the liver and muscle to maintain balanced fat production and burning, a biological process tailored to match the body’s energy demands and maximize fuel-burning efficiencies during the day versus night,” said Chih-Hao Lee, PhD, HSPH associate professor of Genetics and Complex Diseases, corresponding senior author in a press release.

Its a known fact that the fat-making process in the liver is completely controlled by PPAR delta, whereas the fat-burning process in muscle is controlled by PPAR alpha.

“It is increasingly evident that metabolic responses and diseases influenced by metabolic abnormalities, involve coordinated changes in organs like the liver and muscle,” said Jorge Plutzky, MD, director of the BWH Vascular Disease Prevention Program, senior co-author in the press release.

“By identifying a liver-to-muscle circuit involving fat storage and fatty acid oxidation, and a naturally occurring candidate molecule involved in directing these effects, this study highlights the nature of such integrated responses, and the evolving power of combining traditional experimental models in cells and pre-clinical models with profiling approaches like lipidomics.”

The study will be published in the October 24th issue of Nature.

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