Thursday, February 8, 2007

Leucine and starvation response have a dramatic effect on fat metabolism

Researchers Discover Master Metabolism Regulator With Profound Effect On Fat Metabolism ScienceDaily 2/8/07 "enzyme named GCN2 eIF2alpha kinase, has an unexpectedly profound impact on fat metabolism. "Some results of our experiments suggest interventions that might help treat obesity, prevent Type II diabetes and heart attacks, or ameliorate protein malnutrition," said Douglas Cavener...Cavener and Guo found that the removal of a single amino acid, leucine, from the diet is sufficient to provoke a starvation response that affects fat metabolism. "These findings are important for treating two major problems in the world," Cavener says. "The starvation response we discovered can repress fat synthesis and induce the body to consume virtually all of its stored fat within a few weeks of leucine deprivation. Because this response causes a striking loss of fatty tissue, we may be able to formulate a powerful new treatment for obesity."..."

This research might prove beneficial in two areas: first with those that need to lose a significant amount of fat (and the diseases associated with that) and secondly for those people in developing countries where getting enough protein is the problem. If I'm understanding this correctly researchers might be able to devise dietary interventions that would prevent GCN2 eIF2alpha kinase automatically jumping into starvation mode and making people, especially children lose fat too fast. Not clear what these dietary interventions might be.

A question that comes to mind is whether this enzyme is associated with longevity. Could regulating the function of GCN2 not only lower a variety of diseases but also extend life - since it is directly tied to the starvation response.

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