Excessive blood fat may lead to organ damage

Study suggests higher levels of blood lipids may lead to inflammation and organ damage. 

According to a recent study, researchers have discovered mechanisms through which higher levels of blood lipid may lead to inflammations or more serious conditions such as organ failure and/or damage. Inflammation which is caused by obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular problems is also a risk factor for the same problems.

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One of the most common reasons behind inflammation is infection. According to experts, when the body senses that foreign microorganisms such as bacteria, have entered the body, it forces the immune system into actions. Inflammation is a significant part of that response. Inflammation may occur due to other reasons as well. In instances where it persists “abnormally”, inflammation may lead to other types of damage.

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Dr. Timo Speer and colleagues from Germany, have discovered a factor which they believe may be the primary cause for “unhealthful inflammation” such as, high triglyceride levels, which are a part of an individuals’ blood fat. The study helped to discover the mechanisms which may lead blood fat towards inflammation which may affect biological processes and in some cases even lead to organ or blood vessel damage.

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Moreover, the research team which conducted their study in vitro and later in “mouse models”, focused the research on a key inflammasome complex that contained NLRP3 (nod-like receptor family pyrin domain). According to the study authors, this is a protein complex which plays a vital role in activating the body’s immune response. In this recent study, Dr. Speer and the team set out to discover how NLRP3 could be set into motion mistakenly.

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Preliminary results revealed that abnormally high lipid levels were responsible for inflammation, primarily, the high levels of triglycerides. The researchers found that the “apolipoprotein C3” which is a protein secreted by the liver is also found in triglyceride-rich lipoproteins, eventually triggering inflammation and activates NLRP3.

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Although mouse models should that high apolipoprotein C3 concentrations caused damage to organs, the same workings in human participants contributed to kidney damage and vascular problems due to higher levels of apolipoprotein C3.

Our work has involved studying a special group of lipids, the triglycerides. We've been able to show that when these naturally occurring fats are present at elevated concentrations they can alter our defence cells in such a way that the body reacts as if responding to a bacterial infection.

Dr. Timo Speer Saarland University

According to Dr. Speer, this often leads to inflammation, which if it becomes chronic, may lead to damaged kidneys and/or cause atherosclerosis [which is a narrowing of the arteries due to deposit buildups on the inner arterial wall]. Dr. Speer elaborated that this narrowing of the arteries is one of the major reasons behind heart attacks and strokes, respectively.

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In addition to this, the study authors argue that their findings suggest that by “targeting excessive apolipoprotein C3”, experts may be able to overcome unhealthful inflammation. Furthermore, it was argued that adopting a low fat diet can also significantly extend the life expectancy in high risk patients. For instance, patients suffering from diabetes and even high blood pressure et cetera. Dr. Speer added that this is due to the fact that blood triglyceride levels are higher in people who have a higher fat diet as compared to those with a low fat diet.

As a result of biochemical changes, the triglycerides develop toxic properties that activate the body's innate immune system. This initiates a series of self-destructive processes, including those in which the walls of the arteries are attacked and the blood vessels become occluded, reducing blood flow.

Dr. Timo Speer Saarland University

 

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