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Suzanne Devkota solves the mystery of the Creeping Fat

17.12.2020 11:58

Branco Weiss Alumna Suzanne Devkota is lead author of a study that may have solved an enduring mystery in Crohn’s disease: In many patients with Crohn’s disease abdominal fat migrates to the wall of the inflamed small intestines. What prompts the fat tissue to “creep” through the abdomen and wrap around the intestines of many patients with this inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) was poorly understood – until now. In a study published in the journal CELL, Devkota together with other researchers from Cedars-Sinai show that the peculiar creeping activity of the fat appears to initially be protective but then ends up doing more harm than good.

The investigators performed in-depth molecular examinations of small intestine and fat tissue samples from 11 Crohn’s patients who had undergone surgery. They found that the adipose tissue is actually responding to bacteria that have migrated out of the patient’s damaged intestines and directly into the fat. But the response that begins as protective apparently has no “off” switch. If the bacteria remains in the fat it will continue to migrate to a possible source of the gut bug. The data led the researchers to a specific microbe responsible for prompting the fat to travel to the small intestine and protectively encase the organ, imperiling its function. This research could point the way to new therapeutics, Cedars-Sinai experts say.

Read the paper in CELL

Read the news in Nature

Read the press release