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Eur J Intern Med. 2014 Dec;25(10):865-73. doi: 10.1016/j.ejim.2014.10.012. Epub 2014 Nov 4.

Fat, epigenome and pancreatic diseases. Interplay and common pathways from a toxic and obesogenic environment.

Author information

1
Division of Internal Medicine, Hospital of Bisceglie, Bisceglie, Italy.
2
Department of Biomedical Sciences and Human Oncology, Clinica Medica "A. Murri", University of Bari Medical School, Bari, Italy. Electronic address: piero.portincasa@uniba.it.

Abstract

The worldwide obesity epidemic is paralleled by a rise in the incidence of pancreatic disorders ranging from "fatty" pancreas to pancreatitis and cancer. Body fat accumulation and pancreatic dysfunctions have common pathways, mainly acting through insulin resistance and low-grade inflammation, frequently mediated by the epigenome. These mechanisms are affected by lifestyle and by the toxic effects of fat and pollutants. An early origin is common, starting in pediatric age or during the fetal life in response to nutritional factors, endocrine disruptor chemicals (EDCs) or parental exposure to toxics. A "fatty pancreas" is frequent in obese and is able to induce pancreatic damage. The fat is a target of EDCs and of the cytotoxic/mutagenic effects of heavy metals, and is the site of bioaccumulation of lipophilic and persistent pollutants related with insulin resistance and able to promote pancreatic cancer. Increased Body Mass Index (BMI) can act as independent risk factor for a more severe course of acute pancreatitis and obesity is also a well-known risk factor for pancreatic cancer, that is related with BMI, insulin resistance, and duration of exposure to the toxic effects of fat and/or of environmental pollutants. All these mechanisms involve gene-environment interactions through epigenetic factors, and might be manipulated by primary prevention measures. Further studies are needed, pointing to better assess the interplays of modifiable factors on both obesity and pancreatic diseases, and to verify the efficacy of primary prevention strategies involving lifestyle and environmental exposure to toxics.

KEYWORDS:

Adipose tissue; Environment; Epigenome; Obesity; Pancreatic cancer; Pancreatitis

PMID:
25457435
DOI:
10.1016/j.ejim.2014.10.012
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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