Researchers have identified a possible gene involved in the different types of lipodystrophy, a highly unknown and underdiagnosed disease, which will allow new ways of treating the disease to be addressed through diet. Looking to the future, they plan to study the effects of extra virgin olive oil on this disease. The results of this research have recently been published in the prestigious international scientific journal Nutrients of the MDPI group.
The professor of Immunology at the UJA and head of Health and Epidemiology Unit of INUO, José Juan Gaforio Martínez, explained that lipodystrophy “is not a single disease, it is a syndrome that can have a congenital or acquired origin”, and has highlighted that “it is so complex and rare, with so many possible origins, that it is rarely diagnosed due to ignorance”. “This is a dysfunction of the adipose tissue that produces an abnormal redistribution of body fat, causing this fat to disappear from some parts of the body and accumulate in others”, specified the researcher, who added that this has many implications not only aesthetically, but also in health.
The identification of the gene involved in both acquired and congenital lipodystrophy is a scientific finding that makes it possible to demonstrate a link for all types of lipodystrophy, and therefore study treatments to reduce the effects of this disease. “Normally, people with lipodystrophy are advised to eat a low-fat diet,” stressed the expert, while stressing that, however, this gene can be modulated through the fat we eat in our diet.
Research carried out by the “Tumor Immunology” group at the University of Jaén has shown that there are some fats that worsen the disease, such as saturated fats (present in many foods of animal and vegetable origin) and others that act positive on this gene and, although they do not cure the disease, they do act positively on this disease, as are the Omega 3 polyunsaturated fats (found mainly in fish). These results would open the possibility of treating the disease through diet, as well as designing new therapeutic targets.
In this sense, José Juan Gaforio explained that adipose tissue is an endocrine organ where hormones that are very important for a person’s health are synthesized, such as leptin. “This is the satiety hormone, which tells the hypothalamus that you are already full so that you stop eating, so when adipose tissue does not synthesize this hormone in sufficient quantity, these people are terribly hungry. Hence the importance of finding new ways to improve the functioning of adipose tissue”, he has indicated.
Moreover, the researcher points out that the INUO research group will study the effects of the fats in extra virgin olive oil on this disease.