Visceral Fat and Inflammation
Visceral fat is gut fat. Not only unsightly, it is the most unhealthy and inflammatory form of fat. Reporting in the journal Diabetes, a research team focused on bypass surgery patients found that visceral fat exponentially increases systemic inflammation and insulin resistance as well. The team sampled blood from the portal vein in obese patients undergoing gastric bypass surgery and found that visceral fat in the abdomen was secreting high levels of an important inflammatory molecule called interleukin-6 (IL-6) into portal vein blood. “The portal vein is filled with blood that drains visceral fat,” says study author Luigi Fontana, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine at Washington University in St. Louis. “Portal vein blood had levels of IL-6 that were 50 percent higher than blood from the periphery.” Increased IL-6 levels in the portal vein correlated with concentrations of an inflammatory substance called C-reactive protein (CRP) in the body. High CRP levels are related to inflammation, and chronic inflammation is associated with insulin resistance, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and atherosclerosis, among other things. “These data support the notion that visceral fat produces inflammatory cytokines that contribute to insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease,” says Klein. The team studied blood samples from 25 patients. All were extremely obese, and all were undergoing gastric bypass surgery. They sampled blood from the portal vein and from the radial artery in the arm and found differences in levels of IL-6 between the samples. The findings finally explained how visceral fat leads to inflammation, insulin resistance and other metabolic problems. It is now quite clear that atherosclerosis is an inflammatory disease exacerbated by visceral fat and that it is further exacerbated by more inflammation. Another study found that treatment with HCG suppressed phorbol myristate acetate-induced expression of the inflammatory cytokines interleukin 6 and 8 in human endometrium and decidua tissue.
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