Stress Increases the Risk of Obesity

First Posted: Jul 15, 2014 04:22 PM EDT

An unhealthy diet can increase the risk of weight gain as well as various health issues associated with a higher BMI. Of course, much of our BMI will also be determined by various genetic factors. However, other environmental ones can play a role, too. A recent study conducted by researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) found that adenosine, a metabolite that's released when the body is under significant stress, increases the risk of adipose stem cells that are, consequently, more likely to change into fat. 

During the study, researchers found that the adipogenesis process is halted by a newly discovered signaling from an adenosine receptor, the A2b adenosine receptor (A2bAR), known as KLF4, which regulates stem cell maintenance. Findings showed that when A2bAR was expressed, KLF4 level is augmented, leading to the inhibition of differentiation of fat cells. In other words, fat cell development is interrupted and can result in various issues with fat storage within cells that get into the bloodstream.

As the majority of the study was carried out on experimental models, groups found that the A2bAR activation inhibits adipogenesis in human primary preadipocyte culture system.

"It may seem counterintuitive, but our body needs fat tissue in order to function properly, and certain biochemical cellular processes are necessary for this to happen," said lead study author Katya Ravid, DSc/PhD, professor of medicine and biochemistry at BUSM and director of the Evans Center for Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research, in a news release. "Our study indicates that a dysfunction resulting from stress or inflammation can disrupt the process of fat tissue development, which could have a negative impact on processes dependent on proper fat cell homeostasis."

More information regarding the findings can be seen via the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

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