Brown fat may help regulate blood sugar levels in the body and prevent the risk of diabetes, said a new study.
A study conducted by researchers at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Australia found that brown fat burns more glucose to keep our body warm during cold days and this mechanism can pave way for new diabetes drug development.
‘Brown fat might act as a 'glucose buffer', lessening the variation in blood glucose and potentially diminishing metabolic stresses that could increase the risk of diabetes.’
Brown adipose tissue or brown fat is present in the collarbone near the neck and gets activated when the body is cold. It uses glucose to generate heat and depending on its consumption blood sugar levels in the body vary.
The team analyzed this effect in 15 healthy volunteers where their brown fat activity was measured using a thermometer placed on the collarbone. The amount of heat generated is directly linked to its activity. The study was published in the Journal Cell Metabolism
They found that the brown fat activity was much higher during the early morning hours which decreased the blood glucose levels in the body. People with higher brown fat had consistent blood glucose levels while those with little fat had fluctuations. These fluctuations are the precursors to diabetes.
"Marked day-to-day glucose variations have been proposed to be a precursor of diabetes. For modern humans who do not rely on it for cold protection, the energy-consuming brown fat rhythm may act as a glucose buffer, smoothing glucose fluctuations and lessening the stress on the pancreas," said Paul Lee, lead author of the study.
"While interesting and promising, brown fat is not the solution to finding a cure for diabetes, at least not now. However, pinpointing what switches on this brown fat rhythm may identify new targets in drug design. This will open new avenues to harness this glucose-response brown fat rhythm for potential therapeutic purposes," he added.