Current thinking holds that obesity derives primarily from overnutrition (though compelling arguments for other mechanisms, like endocrine disruption by environmental pollutants, also gain support from the literature). In animals, overnutrition is initially handled by adipose tissue expansion; however, exhaustion of this route of lipid sequestering results in oversupply of lipid to other tissues including skeletal muscle, heart, liver, and others. Failure of these tissues to clear excess lipids through either metabolism or sequestration into putatively inert triacylglycerols results in perturbation of bioactive lipid metabolism in cells. In particular, aberrant generation of bioactive sphingolipids is implicated in a multitude of pathological outcomes of metabolic disease including insulin resistance, inflammation, cardiomyopathy, and others. This volume addresses not only the fundamentals of sphingolipid metabolism and analysis, but also the roles of sphingolipids in these disease processes.

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