October 18, 2013

Twins with Significantly Different Metabolisms

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twinsIdentical twins presumably have everything the same. So given that precursor, why would some twins have significant differences in the metabolic profiles? The article published in Diabetologia delves into the subject and extrapolates a good reason why this exists.

The study analyzed 16 pairs of identical twins in which one twin is obese and the other is lean. Half the twins had unhealthy obesity that can lead to diabetes, heart problems and other complications and the other half did not. .

There is a scientific term for this contrasting conundrum. If someone is overweight and has the blood profile to show it, it’s unhealthy. If someone is overweight but has a blood profile that otherwise alludes to a healthy person, it is called metabolically healthy obesity (MHO). Half of the twins in this study were visually and internally unhealthy. The other half were MHO.

This research analyzed different fat depots and pathways in participants to analyse their relationship to the MHO participants. Not all obese individuals display the metabolic disturbances commonly associated with excess fat accumulation. This juxtaposition validates why it exists.

In all 16 pairs, the average weight difference between the obese twin and the lean twin was about 37 pounds. Half the obese twins had significantly higher liver fat, over 75% increase in insulin production during the oral glucose test, increased C-reactive protein, significantly more disturbance in the blood fat profile and greater tendency for high blood pressure, compared with the leaner twin.

The fly in the ointment may be  mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation, branched-chain, amino acid catabolism, fatty acid oxidation and adipocyte differentiation pathways. These were all down-regulated in the obese twin and chronic inflammation up-regulated. These are all metabolic problems that can lead to complications and disease.

Although the MHO twins have age and BMI on their side, the tables can quickly turn. Although the MHO twin are on the healthy side of the fence, age and body weight can shift the balance of health in no time.

Keeping yourself healthy by keeping inflammation down, mitochondrial transcription up, and body weight stable in the healthy range is paramount to the maintenance of a metabolically healthy body. Exercise, eat well, and stay healthy.

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