The research team discovered that metabolic disease has a distinct impact on the blood vessels of various organs in our body. They found that blood vessels in the liver and fat tissue have difficulty processing excess lipids, those in the kidneys experience metabolic dysfunction, those in the lungs become highly inflamed, and transport across the brain vessels is defective.
“As vascular dysfunction drives all major pathologies, from heart failure to atherosclerosis and neurodegeneration, our research shows how bad eating habits molecularly promote the development of diverse diseases,” explains Dr. Olga Bondareva, the first author of the study.
“We want to elucidate molecular mechanisms of obesity in order to be able to offer patients tailor-made therapies in the future,” adds HI-MAG director Professor Matthias Blüher. The speaker of Collaborative Research Centre 1052 Obesity Mechanisms has been conducting research on morbid obesity at Leipzig University for years. The present study also involves scientists from Leipzig who work in the fields of cardiology and laboratory medicine.
The researchers then asked whether a healthy diet could reduce the disease-causing molecular signatures induced by a bad diet. Their results show that a healthy diet can indeed improve the molecular health of blood vessels, albeit only partially. For instance, the blood vessels in the liver recovered nearly completely, but blood vessels in the kidneys retained the disease signature, despite a healthy diet and significant weight loss. This means that some of our blood vessels can develop a “memory” of metabolic disease, which is difficult to reverse.
Reference: “Single-cell profiling of vascular endothelial cells reveals progressive organ-specific vulnerabilities during obesity” by Olga Bondareva, Jesús Rafael Rodríguez-Aguilera, Fabiana Oliveira, Longsheng Liao, Alina Rose, Anubhuti Gupta, Kunal Singh, Florian Geier, Jenny Schuster, Jes-Niels Boeckel, Joerg M. Buescher, Shrey Kohli, Nora Klöting, Berend Isermann, Matthias Blüher and Bilal N. Sheikh, 18 November 2022, Nature Metabolism.
The study was funded by the German Research Foundation.