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Don't let belly fat reduce you: Burning it can reduce the risk of age-related diseases



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NEW YORK: Several types of stomach fat accumulate around organs as animals age, contributing to increased inflammation and decreased metabolism, according to a study that might offer a new way to deal with age-related diseases.

Researchers, including Indian scientist Vishwa Deep Dixit from Yale University in the US, say the ability of the human body to produce energy by burning stomach fat decreases with age.

The Dixit Laboratory had previously found that the immune cells needed for the fat burning process – called macrophages – are still active, but the overall amount decreases because belly fat increases with age.

In the current study, researchers found that Adipose B cells in abdominal fat multiply as animals age, contributing to increased inflammation and decreased metabolism.

"These adipose B cells are a unique source of inflammation," Dixit said.

"Usually B cells produce antibodies, and defend against infection. But as we age, adipose B cells that increase become dysfunctional, contributing to metabolic diseases," he added.

Dixit added that some B cells develop as needed to protect the body from infection, and to contract to their natural state.

But with aging, he said, they don't contract with belly fat.

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"This predisposes animals to diabetes and metabolic dysfunctions such as the inability to burn fat," he said.

Dixit suspected that the increased life expectancy of humans might be behind this – pushing the body's cells beyond the limits imposed by evolution.

"Some mechanisms in the body are not chosen for longevity," he said.

The researchers also found that adipose B cells enlarged by receiving signals from nearby macrophages.

They found that the expansion process could be reversed to protect against age-induced metabolic decline by reducing macrophage signaling and by eliminating adipose B cells.

Dixit theorizes that some drugs can be reused to target dysfunctional adipose B cells for better health outcomes.

Some immunotherapy drugs that neutralize B cells – used in certain cancers – can be tested for their effectiveness in reducing metabolic diseases in the elderly, Dixit said.

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