Obesity is a growing public health crisis, bringing with it many serious risk factors, including cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. As the number of people who are either overweight or obese now out numbers those with a healthy body weight by a ratio of two to one, researchers face an urgent need to better understand how the body burns fuel.

In a recent paper published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry, Saint Louis University researchers collaborating with scientists at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine report that low levels of a circulating hormone called adropin predict increase weight gain and metabolic dysregulation during consumption of a high-sugar diet in a nonhuman primate model. The researchers hope these findings will help set the stage to develop new therapies for managing metabolic diseases.

Several years ago, Andrew Butler, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology and physiology at SLU, and his lab discovered the peptide hormone adropin. Research by Butler’s lab suggests that adropin regulates whether the body burns glucose or fat. In previous studies performed, researchers find that low levels of the hormone observed in obese mice may contribute to diabetes and the associate reduce ability of the body to use glucose.

They also found that young men with high adropin levels; so had lower body mass index (BMI) levels. Moreover, some studies indicated low adropin is associated with biomarkers of insulin resistance. In the current study, Butler and his UC, Davis colleagues have conducted studies at California National Primate Research Center located on UC; so Davis campus in order to explore adropin’s role in metabolic health.

Fasting levels of insulin

Overall, consumption of the fructose diet produce a 10% gain in body weight; also increases of fasting levels of insulin, indicating insulin resistance; which reduces glucose use and elevated fasting triglycerides which in humans increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Every cell in the body maintains its own internal clock to control daily rhythms in metabolism. There is a growing awareness of the importance of the biological clocks that control the “circadian rhythm” in health and disease. The current finding suggests that adropin may link the biological clock; so to rhythms in the way the body uses sugar and fats as metabolic fuel.

To further get at what this might mean, data suggests that enhanced use of glucose; so as fuel happens at certain times of day,” Butler said. At night time, the body relies on energy reserves store as lipids in fat cells; also in the daytime relies more on the carbohydrates coming in from the diet.

In this way, stimulation of adropin expression by our internal clocks; which may contribute to increasing the use of glucose as a metabolic fuel during the daytime. Other findings show that adropin expression is co-regulate with clusters of genes; which involve in glucose and fat metabolism in the liver.