A new way to stimulate brown fat and thus burn energy from food has been discovered by an international team of researchers led by Professor Alexander Pfeifer from the University Hospital Bonn.
The scientists discovered that the body's own adenosine activates brown fat and "browns" white fat. The results are now being published in the renowned journal "Nature
"Not all fat is equal," says Professor Alexander Pfeifer from the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology of the University Hospital Bonn. Humans have two different types of fat: undesirable white fat cells which form bothersome "love handles", for example, as well as brown fat cells, which act like a desirable heater to convert excess energy into heat. "If we are able to activate brown fat cells or to convert white fat cells into brown ones, it might be possible to simply melt excess fat away" reports the pharmacologist.
The group of Prof. Pfeifer together with an international team from Sweden, Denmark, Finland, as well as from the Helmholtz-Center Dresden-Rossendorf and the University of Dusseldorf now discovered a new signalling molecule capable of activating brown fat cells: adenosine. Adenosine is typically released during stress. Crucial for transmitting the adenosine signal is the adenosine receptor A2A.
Adenosine activates brown adipose tissue
"If adenosine binds to this receptor in brown fat cells, fat burning is significantly stimulated," reports Dr. Thorsten Gnad from Prof. Pfeifer's team. It was previously thought not possible for adenosine to activate brown fat. Several studies with rats and hamsters demonstrated that adenosine blocks brown fat.