The published paper “BBSome Ablation in SF1 Neurons Causes Obesity without the Comorbidities” was recently selected to appear on the front cover of Molecular Metabolism’s June issue. In this publication, Kamal Rahmouni, PhD, his laboratory, and other DRC collaborators examine the obesity crisis in the United States and around the world and the problems that it creates.
Obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the US and around the world. This is a problem because being obese increases the risks of developing serious medical problems such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. We still do not know how obesity develops and what drives the associated diseases. Recent work from the laboratory of Dr. Rahmouni has identified a protein complex, called the BBSome which is present in neurons of the hypothalamus as an important element in the control body fat and development of obesity. The hypothalamus is a small area in the brain that determines whether the calories derived from ingest food is burned or stored in the form of fat. Removal of the BBSome from neurons of the hypothalamus lead to a progress increase in fat mass resulting in obesity. This is due to inability of the hypothalamus to properly send signals to peripheral tissues that burn calories. As a consequence, the body is burning less calories. Instead, the ingested calories are directed to the fat tissues for storage increasing its mass. These findings point to alterations in the BBSome as a potential cause of obesity. Another important finding that emerged from this study relates to the identification of the BBSome as an important mediator of changes in blood glucose and blood pressure. This stems from the observation that despite being obese, animals that lack the BBSome in neurons of the hypothalamus do not develop elevation in blood glucose and high blood pressure. This is reminiscent of a subset of obese subjects, referred to as “healthy obese,” who do not develop type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Understanding what confers the protection against obesity-related conditions will help us comprehend how metabolic and cardiovascular disease develops in obesity and how to treat them.
Congratulations to Kamal Rahmouni and other DRC collaborators!