Enzyme separates healthy and unhealthy obesity

Guest post by Tina Hesman Saey

Obesity is usually a gateway condition to other diseases, such as diabetes. But about a quarter of obese people remain healthy. Now, Alexander Jais of the Medical University of Vienna report July 3 in Cell that an enzyme called heme oxygenase-1 promotes inflammation and draws the line between healthy and unhealthy obesity.

Obese people who had more of the enzyme in their livers and fat tissue had more inflammation and were more likely to be diabetic than obese people with little of the enzyme in their tissues. Experiments with mice confirm the finding and suggest that inhibiting the enzyme might promote better health in obese people.