15 December 2014
Researchers at the University of Southern Denmark have uncovered the mechanism that fat cells use to change their function.
In the body, white adipose tissue stores excess calories as fat that can be released for use in other organs during fasting. However, they also have pools of brown adipose tissue, which primarily acts as an effective fat burner for the production of heat.
Now the team have identified the mechanism that allows white fat cells to become browner.
This is important as browning of white adipose tissue increases the energy consumption of the body, which could lead to a future treatment to tackle obesity.
The team from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, led by Professor Susanne Mandrup, published their paper in the Genes & Development journal. Their challenge was to reprogramme the energy storing white fat cells into so-called "brite" (brown-in-white) fat cells in the body's white adipose tissue. This would make adipose tissue burn off excess energy as heat instead of storing it.
Professor Mandrup said: "By identifying the areas of the genome that are directly involved in the reprogramming, we have also identified an important factor in the process ... which is found in all fat cells, and ... is required for the reprogramming to take place."
Posted by Edward Bartel
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