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First lipid hormone discovered

Fatty acid helps boost insulin action and protects against fat buildup in the liver.

12:15pm, September 18, 2008
Some fats are just better than others. Omega-3 fatty acids, such as the fats that compose fish oil, have been recognized for their health-promoting benefits.

Well, move over, omega-3s; now there’s a fat that’s even phatter. Researchers at HarvardUniversity and Lipomics Technologies in West Sacramento, Calif., have discovered that a fatty acid can make mice super healthy.

An omega-7 fatty acid called C16:1n7-palmitoleate works as a health-promoting hormone, the researchers report September 19 in Cell. Palmitoleate is made by fat and liver cells, the team discovered. The lipid, or fatty acid, signals muscles to respond to insulin, prevents the harmful buildup of fats in the liver and reduces levels of inflammatory chemicals made in fat cells.

The new study “really suggests that lipids, fatty acids, could have a signaling effect,” says Clay Semenkovich, an
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