New York: Polar bears are the most fat-obsessed beasts but have healthy hearts and this may hold the genetic key for humans to avoid heart disease, a promising research has found.
Up to half of the body weight of polar bears consists of fat and their blood cholesterol levels are high enough to cause cardiovascular disease in humans.
“The life of a polar bear revolves around fat. Nursing cubs rely on milk that can be up to 30 percent fat and adults eat primarily blubber of marine mammal prey,” explained Eline Lorenzen of University of California Berkeley.
Polar bears have large fat deposits under their skin.
Since they do not have access to fresh water for most of the year, they rely on metabolic water which is a byproduct of the breakdown of fat.
To understand this, Lorenzen and her team looked at the genomes of 79 polar bears from Greenland and 10 brown bears from different locations around the globe.
They discovered that mutations in genes involved in cardiovascular function allowed polar bears to rapidly evolve the ability to consume a fatty diet without developing high rates of heart disease.
One such gene, called APOB, is known to play a role in moving cholesterol from the bloodstream into cells, thus reducing the risk of heart disease, said the study published in the journal Cell.