This molecule plays major factor in obesity

HOUSTON – A University of Houston study revealed a single molecule plays a major role in obesity.

The cholesterol-derived molecule 27-hydroxycholesterol increases your body fat, despite your diet, according to the study.

“We found 27HC directly affects white adipose (fat) tissue and increases body fat, even without eating the diet that increases body fat,” University of Houston assistant professor of biology Michihisa Umetani said in the journal Endocrinology.

Researchers at UH are hoping to develop a way to control 27HC levels in order to treat "cholesterol and/or estrogen receptor-mediated diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, cancer and metabolic diseases," according to Umetani.

The molecule doesn't act completely alone, according to the first author of the paper, doctoral student Arvand Asghari, who said, "It does need some help from the diet to increase body weight because it expands the capacity of the fat already in the body.”

Prior to the research, the molecule was known, but as an "abundant cholesterol metabolite," UH researchers said.

Umetani’s group has reported its detrimental effects on the cardiovascular system, but its impact on obesity was not well-known.