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Apples and Pears, Men and Women

When it comes to fat accumulation, men tend to carry more weight around their abdomens (apple-shaped) while women tend to carry more weight around their hips and thighs (pear-shaped), but the mechanical reason for the difference has remained a mystery.

A team of Virginia Tech researchers has found that a fat cell remodeling (termed as autophagy) pathway was regulated by an estrogen receptor that sits on the cell membrane and plays a major role in the difference among men and women when it comes to fat build-up.

“Our results highlight the importance of considering sex difference in biomedical research and also shed light on why breast cancer patients who receive treatment in the form of estrogen receptor inhibitors may find that they gain visceral fat directly after treatment,” said Dr. Zhiyong Cheng, a researcher at Virginia Tech.

NIFA supports this project through the Hatch Act.

Read the full story at VA Tech News.

Want to read about more impacts like this? Check out Fresh from the Field, a weekly bulletin showcasing transformative impacts made by grantees funded by NIFA.

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