Key protein in obesity related diseases
It is well known that obesity can lead to health problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and it is thought that this is due to low-grade inflammation. Scientists believe they may have found the protein which causes this inflammation using mice.
The protein, called angiopoietin-like protein 2 (Angptl2), is a fat-derived protein. The team showed that the levels of Angptl2 are raised in the fatty tissue of mice, especially in tissue with a low oxygen supply. Obese fatty tissue typically has poor oxygen supply, as there are fewer blood vessels supplying blood. They also showed that higher Angptl2 levels are found in the blood of people with higher body mass index and insulin levels.
To test the effects of the protein directly, they bred obese mice lacking the protein. Results showed there was less inflammation in the fat tissue, and less insulin resistance. Other mice, of normal body weight, were bred to over-produce the Angptl2 protein. This group of mice developed inflammation and insulin resistance. Further tests showed that the protein triggers an inflammatory cascade, causing blood vessels to remodel and attracting immune cells. This then causes the inflammation which can lead to some of the health problems associated with being obese.
This study identifies Angptl2 as a new molecular target that could have uses in the diagnosis and treatment of obesity and related diseases.