Ectopic synthesis of melanin in human adipose tissue may prevent secondary complications of obesity
Manpreet Randhawa, Sandy Page, Zobair Younossi, Vikas Chandhoke, Vincent J. Hearing, Ancha Baranova
This is a collaborative project between:
School of Systems Biology, College of Science, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
Translational Reseach Institute, Inova Hospital, VA
Pigment Cell Division, NCI, NIH
Preliminary results for this study were published in FASEB J. 2009 Mar;23(3):835-43.
Obesity has been strongly associated with systemic inflammation and, to a lesser degree, with oxidative stress, although the causal relationships among these factors are unclear. Our recent study demonstrated an expression of the components of the melanogenic pathway and the presence of melanin in visceral adipose has raised questions regarding the possible role of melanogenesis in adipose tissue. We also found larger amounts of melanin in the adipose tissue of obese patients relative to lean ones. We hypothesize that melanin, a pigment known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, may scavenge reactive oxygen species and abate oxidative stress and inflammation in adipose tissue. It is possible that the α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone or its synthetic analogues could be used to stimulate melanin production in adipocytes and, by that, to prevent the development of the secondary complications of obesity, namely, Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, Metabolic Syndrome, Cardiovascular conditions and PCOS.