New Evidence Suggests Obesity is Caused by Inflammation, Heart Institute Scientists Say

September 28, 2020

UOHI-led study demonstrates RIPK1 gene is associated with obesity, and silencing its expression is a viable therapeutic approach to obesity and related diseases.

Watch: Dr. Katey Rayner discusses her research.

Scientists at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute have demonstrated that elevated levels of the RIPK1 gene (Receptor-Interacting serine/threonine Protein Kinase 1), a central regulator of inflammation, is a genetic risk factor for obesity in humans.

Dr. Katey Rayner, the study’s principal investigator, and director of the Cardiometabolic MicroRNA Laboratory at the UOHI, says that by therapeutically silencing “mutant” copies of RIPK1 in a cohort of obese mice, studies have proven to dramatically reduce the fat mass and body weight of the animals and improve their insulin sensitivity, while simultaneously promoting the accumulation of natural killer T-cells that fight inflammation in fat tissue.

“These findings demonstrate RIPK1 is genetically associated with obesity, and that reducing RIPK1 expression is a potential therapeutic approach to target obesity and related diseases in humans.”

- Dr. Katey Rayner, UOHI

The study is published in Nature Metabolism, a leading academic journal covering a full-spectrum of metabolic research.

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