Two research studies funded by grants from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) examined the role of a gene called STAT4 in the development of Type 2 diabetes and other obesity-related cardiovascular diseases. The research was presented at the 2010 annual meeting of the American Heart Association’s Council on Atherosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.
“We’ve known for some time that STAT4 is a ‘gene switch,’ meaning it is one of the genes that regulates or ‘turns on’ immune cells. But, our preliminary findings indicate that STAT4 is also involved in the metabolic process,” says Anca D. Dobrian, PhD, assistant professor of physiology and lead author of one of the studies.
“Specifically, we’ve found that STAT4 appears to be involved in insulin resistance as well as the development of atherosclerosis,” adds Elena V. Galkina, PhD, assistant professor of microbiology and molecular cell biology. “Assuming these results in rodent-models hold true for humans, STAT4 offers a potentially attractive target for therapy.”
Early findings in these studies indicate that insulin resistance and atherosclerosis, a condition characterized by the thickening of artery walls due to fatty plaque deposits, occur in conjunction with elevated levels of STAT4.
The researchers learned that eliminating STAT4 in rodent models reduced the development of atherosclerosis. Similarly, eliminating STAT4 in rodent models given a high-fat diet revealed that while the rodents gained the same amount of weight as rodents with the gene, they did not develop insulin resistance — which is a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes and other heart problems.
“Basically,” says Jerry Nadler, MD, director of the EVMS Strelitz Diabetes Center, chair of internal medicine and co-author on both papers, “it appears that excess STAT4 is working in hyper-drive, leading to inflamed fat which can produce these problems. This is significant because prior to this study, no one knew that STAT4 was involved in insulin resistance or atherosclerosis.”
These findings lay the groundwork for pivotal follow-up studies on the relationship between metabolic responses and immunity.
“Now that we know STAT4 is a factor,” Dr. Dobrian says, “the next steps will be to work on better understanding the mechanisms behind it with the ultimate goal of developing a drug that blocks or inhibits STAT4, without eliminating it entirely.“
The doctors say that STAT 4 is a particularly attractive target for treatment because it exists in only a few cell types throughout the body, and, therefore, any drug that regulates the gene’s expression to maintain normal levels is less likely to cause other side effects.
“This is an important first step in identifying a new target for treatment of the most urgent health problem throughout not only the United States, but much of the developed world,” Dr. Galkina says. “If we can develop a way to reduce the health problems associated with obesity, we can save a lot of people.”
Drs. Galkina and Dobrian also are funded by research grants from the American Heart Association.About EVMS:
Jina Gaines | EurekAlert!
Fine organic particles in the atmosphere are more often solid glass beads than liquid oil droplets
21.04.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie
Study overturns seminal research about the developing nervous system
21.04.2017 | University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...
Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.
A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy