First Link Found Between Obesity, Inflammation and Vascular Disease

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Inflammation

Researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston have found that human fat cells produce a protein that is linked to both inflammation and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

They say the discovery, reported in Journal of the American College of Cardiology, goes a long way to explain why people who are overweight generally have higher levels of the molecule, known as C-reactive protein (CRP), which is now used diagnostically to predict future cardiovascular events.

They also report some good news: the researchers found that aspirin and statin drugs, now commonly used to treat heart diseases, effectively damp down production of CRP from fat cells.

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"This study is the first to show how body fat participates in the inflammatory process that leads to cardiovascular disease, but also demonstrates that this process can be blocked by drugs now on the market," says the study leader, Edward T. H. Yeh, M.D., who is both chairman of the Department of Cardiology at M. D. Anderson and director of the Research Center for Cardiovascular Disease at the University of Texas Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases.

UT Health Science Center at Houston President James T. Willerson, M.D., is a co-author of the study.

Adipose tissue (body fat) has been lately regarded as a separate body organ which can produce a number of different biologically active molecules, such as cytokine proteins that are associated with inflammation, and the hormone resistin, which is linked to insulin resistance and the development type two diabetes.

Even if they are healthy, people with more adipose tissue also tend to have higher levels of CRP. Previous research, however, had only found CRP to be produced in liver tissue, although Yeh, Willerson and Calabro discovered in 2003 that the protein also is manufactured in the walls of blood vessels. "But that didn

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