A defect in a protein that acts as dietary fat sensor could be a cause of obesity and liver disease, according to a study led by researchers at Imperial College London.
The protein, known as GPR120, is found on the surface of cells in the gut, liver and fat tissues, and helps cells detect and respond to unsaturated fatty acids.
However, it is suspected that patients with low levels of the protein are more prone to obesity and liver disease, after a mouse study showed that GPR120-deficient subjects had a greater risk of developing the conditions.
Researchers also found that patients with a mutation in the gene that encodes the protein are more likely to be obese, as the mutation prevents GPR120 from responding to omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids have vital anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic benefits, but rely on GPR120 to help them function - without which they can be harmful.
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