Saturday, August 11, 2012
Scientists identify protein that stimulates brown fat to burn calories
Scientists have identified a protein which regulates the activation of brown fat in both the brain and the body’s tissues. Their research, which was conducted in mice, was published today, Friday 11 May, in the journal Cell. Unlike white fat, which functions primarily to store up fat, brown fat (also known as brown adipose tissue) burns fats to generate heat in a process known as thermogenesis. The research, led by scientists at the University of Cambridge Metabolic Research Laboratories at the Institute of Metabolic Science, discovered that the protein BMP8B acts on a specific metabolic system (which operates in the brain and the tissues) to regulate brown fat, making it a potential therapeutic target. The scientists believe that activating brown fat could help to support current weight loss programmes, which individuals often struggle to maintain. Dr Andrew Whittle, one of the authors of the paper from the Institute of Metabolic Science, said: “Other proteins made by the body can enhance heat production in brown fat, such as thyroid hormone but often these proteins have important effects in other organs too. Therefore they are not good targets for developing new weight loss treatments. However, BMP8B seems to be very specific for regulating the heat producing activity of brown fat, making it a more ideal mechanism for new therapies.” The experiments showed that when mice lacked the protein BMP8B they found it more difficult to maintain their normal body temperature. They also became much more obese than normal mice, particularly when fed a high-fat diet. Additionally, when the researchers treated brown fat cells with BMP8B they responded more strongly to activation by the nervous system. Furthermore, when BMP8B was administered to specific parts of the brain it increased the amount of nervous activation of brown adipose tissue. The result was that these BMP8B-treated brown fat cells burned more fat and mice given BMP8B in the brain lost weight.
posted by SCIENCE NEWS at 11:39 PM