Scientists at the National Institutes of Health carried out a study to find potential molecular targets for reducing obesity-related inflammation. Researchers have known that overeating (excess calorie consumption) in obese people often triggers inflammation. That inflamation in turn has been linked to asthma, Type 2 diabetes and other diseases. The study found that a protein called SIRT3 provides resistance to this inflammatory response and could potentially prevent or reverse obesity-associated diseases of inflammation. SIRT3 became active when 19 healthy volunteers fasted for a 24-hour period.
By using cultured cells from a group of eight volunteers who did not fast, the team found also evidence suggesting that SIRT3 can be activated not only through fasting, but also through the use of nicotinamide riboside, a vitamin B derivative.
“Previous research has shown that intermittent fasting or intermittent calorie restriction—by way of eating fewer calories for a few days a month—reduces inflammation,” said Dr. Sack. “We found through our study that this effect is mediated, in part, on a molecular level when SIRT3 blocks the activity of another molecule known as the NLRP3 inflammasome.” He explained that NLRP3 inflammasomes are components of an intracelluar immune response triggered when mitochondria undergo stress, such as from excess calorie intake.
“Taken together, these early results point to a potential mechanism for addressing obesity-related inflammation, and thus diseases linked to this type of inflammation, such as asthma, Type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and atherosclerosis—conditions associated with a reduced quality of life and/or premature death,” Dr. Sack said.
Dr. Sack and colleagues—who include researchers from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases and Weill Cornell Medical College—are conducting a follow-up study at the NIH Clinical Center to determine whether the vitamin B derivative nicotinamide riboside can specifically reduce bronchial inflammation in individuals with asthma. If the results of the study are promising, Dr. Sack and colleagues will aim to conduct larger clinical trials to validate the findings and potentially inform treatment of obesity-related inflammation in asthma.
You can find the study here.