Why do men and women store fat differently? The answer in fruit flies

Men and women with a few extra pounds distributed differently? Not only do women generally have a higher percentage of body fat than men, but the areas where fat is concentrated are different between the sexes. Women are more likely to store the flab between legs and buttocks, men on the abdominal part. Why these differences?

All “fault” of lifestyles, of sex hormones but also of genes , which cause differences in the way our body accumulates fat . What not everyone knows is that the same thing happens to fruit flies, to which we humans are very similar, sharing with them almost 75% of the genes that cause diseases. And some of these genes can also explain why women and men store fat differently .

This intuition could one day be used to treat metabolic diseases, including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. In the scientific literature, hundreds of genes of fat metabolism have been studied that are influenced in one way or another by sex hormones and sex chromosomes , but not much is known about which specific genes are responsible for storing fat between the sexes .

In a new study published in PLOS Biology , researchers from the University of British Columbia in Canada focused on the genome of fruit flies .

Like women, female flies also store more fat than males and metabolize it more slowly, and while this difference between men and women is partially explained by lifestyle, biological factors such as sex hormones and sex chromosomes also play a role.

The study identified a gene , the so-called triglyceride lipase brummer ( bmm ), which is involved in the regulation of sexual differences in fat homeostasis: normally, male flies have higher levels of bmm; in contrast, in the absence of this gene, males and females have stored exactly the same amount of fat.

What are the implications of this discovery? By identifying the genes that explain why males and females have different amounts of fat, scholars may be able to better understand why men and women have different risks of diseases associated with abnormal fat storage, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. type 2.

Knowing which genes influence fat storage and metabolism could be an important first step in developing more precise treatments to deal with this type of disease.

by Abdullah Sam
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