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Too much abdominal (visceral) fat increases an individual's risk of developing insulin resistance and other metabolic disorders. In a Perspective, Hug and Lodish discuss the unexpected finding that blood levels of a hormone produced by visceral fat, called visfatin, correlate with obesity (Fukuhara et al.). Surprisingly, visfatin has beneficial, insulin-like activity and is able to bind to the insulin receptor, lowering blood glucose levels. The implications of this finding for diabetes research and therapy are discussed by the Perspective authors.
The authors are at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Cambridge, MA 02142, USA, and the Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02142, USA. C. Hug is also in the Division of Respiratory Disease, Children's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115, USA.
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