York University Research Highlights Differences of Male and Female Obesity in Mice

Photo by Pixabay.

A newly published study by York University demonstrates the biological differences of obesity and obesity-related disease in male and female mice. Professor Tara Haas and the Faculty of Health’s School of Kinesiology and Health Science were behind the new research. 

According to News @ York, Haas and co-authors include: Faculty of Health Assistant Professor Emilie Roudier, former York post-doctorate student Martina Rudnicki, and York Ph.D. student Alexandra Pislaru. 

Haas’ new study is “focused on the blood vessels that are located within fat tissue,” she says. “Healthy fat tissue needs to be supplied by a high number of small blood vessels, called capillaries and we previously found that females make more of these capillaries in their fat tissue compared to males.”

By studying the capillaries in obese male and female mice, Haas hoped to uncover why there are more capillaries in female fat tissue. The study shows “that capillary cells of females are better at resisting damage caused by obesity or by aging compared to males,” says Haas. 

Haas’s team identified “thousands of genes that are produced in different levels in the female compared to male cells.” From these points, Haas and her team saw “female cells produced genes to support cell proliferation while male cells produced genes that cause inflammation.”

As well, Professor Haas says the team found differences in male and female cells even when “female cells were taken out of the body and grown in dishes, meaning that male and female cells behaved in unique ways even without being exposed to sex hormones,” explains Haas.

The study provides more insight into obesity and related diseases. Professor Haas thinks their findings explain why females are more protected from aging, metabolic disease, and cardiovascular disease than males. 

By identifying these differences, this new research could help in identifying an individual’s likelihood in developing disease and response to therapeutic treatment.

These findings are not exclusive to this study. In fact, they align with the general consensus within the scientific community. “Women are more protected from obesity related metabolic disease (such as insulin resistance /diabetes) than men,” says Haas. “This occurs not just in mouse research models, but also in the human population.” 

Obesity is a growing health condition in Canada. The Public Health Agency of Canada reports in The Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention in Canada: Research, Policy and Practice (the HPCDP Journal), that about one in four Canadian adults is obese, and that those rates are projected to increase over the next two decades, particularly in men. 

“Obesity-related diseases greatly reduce the quality of life for those individuals and, overall, put more strain on our healthcare system,” adds Haas.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), those suffering from obesity are at a greater risk for many other health conditions including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and strokes, among others.

“Our work is a first step in uncovering new ways to improve the health of blood vessels in the fat of obese individuals, which can improve their overall health and lower their risk of developing severe disease,” says Haas.

About the Author

By David Clarke

Photo/Video Editor

David is in his fourth year, studying English at York University. He has a keen interest in filmmaking, writing, literature, video-editing, and ideas. When he isn’t working on his next project or studying, you can catch him watching film-noirs on Turner Classic Movies.


Notify of
1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Carbohydrates combined with Poly-Unsaturated fats (PUFA / VARNISH -> soybean/safflower/sunflower/corn/seasame/canola/flaxseed/cottonseed/linseed) directly cause cancer, diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, obesity and dementia.