Up to one-quarter of individuals currently labeled as obese are actually metabolically healthy and do not have a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Though obesity is a major risk factor for diabetes, the two conditions aren't always linked. A study published by Cell Press in the journal Cell sheds light on a possible explanation.
High levels of a molecule called heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) are linked to poor metabolic health and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes in obese humans. Moreover, HO-1 inhibition improves metabolic health in obese mice, suggesting that HO-1 blockers could represent a promising new strategy for the treatment of metabolic disease.
"The results indicate that HO-1 is in fact necessary for the development of metabolic disease and call for a re-evaluation of numerous findings in the field," says senior study author Harald Esterbauer of the Medical University of Vienna. "The study also reveals HO-1 as a candidate biomarker for the stratification of metabolically healthy and unhealthy obesity and provides a framework for selective, personalized therapy."