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First study shows creeping fat plays a role in IBD

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
First study links intra abdominal fat to ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease

New research highlights a potential role of intra abdominal fat in the development and progression of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. This is the first time fat that wraps around the intestines has been linked to ulcerative colitis.


Creeping fat cells found in the abdominal cavity were studied in the lab and shown to promote inflammation associated with IBD.

The study authors explain it has been difficult to pinpoint the role of fat cells and it's contribution to IBD because healthy people don't generally have intra abdominal fat that is generally thought to dampen inflammation.

The finding, published in the American Gastroenterological Association's journal Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology was uncovered when researchers isolated and cultured pre-fat cells from healthy people and from those with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. the most common forms of IBD.

Fat cell differences

The results showed striking differences between inflammatory mediators in fat cells between healthy people when compared to people with Crohn's disease and colitis. demonstrating for the first time that creeping fat cells may play a role in ulcerative colitis.

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Past studies have suggested fat cells in the intestines might contribute to Crohn's disease.

Charalabos Pothoulakis, MD, from the University of California, Los Angeles.explains fat cells have a tendency to promote inflammation in IBD, but normally suppress inflammatory response in the gut.

"A well-appreciated feature of IBD, especially longstanding Crohn's disease, is intra-abdominal fat, also known as 'creeping fat,' which wraps around the intestine. However, it's not clear whether this fat is protective or harmful," says Pothoulakis.

The study offers insights into the role of creeping fat in IBD that was previously unknown. The finding could mean a potential new therapy that targets fat cells to help treat Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

Image credit:
American Gastroenterological Association


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