- Gladstone Institute scientists have shown that an FDA approved cancer drug could increase the
amount of brown fat in the body.
- Administration of
this drug was found to increase brown fat, boost metabolism and lower
weight gain in experimental studies.
- This was carried
out through the process of cellular reprogramming where muscle precursor
cells and white fat were converted to brown fat
research team from Gladstone Institute has found that an FDA approved drug
could increase brown fat, known to be beneficial to health. The drug worked on
the principle of cellular reprogramming and mice that were injected with the
drug and fed with a high calorie diet were found to have higher amounts of
brown fat, reduced gain in body weight as well as faster metabolisms.
White Fat Vs Brown Fat
gain occurs when there is a discrepancy between energy intake and energy
expenditure, affecting the energy balance in the body. The additional energy,
the energy that is not required by the body immediately, is stored as white
fat. This is an evolutionary mechanism that was developed to help ancient
humans tide over periods of famine. However, in this age of excess, white fat
tends to get stored for long period of time leading to weight
, on the other hand, aids in
burning of energy.
‘A drug to increase brown fat could be an effective treatment for obesity’
Advantages of Brown
is known to store energy in the body while brown fat aids in
burning energy through heat. It is known that
- Infants have low
quantities of brown fat, however, most of the brown fat disappears as they
- In adults people
with larger amounts of brown fat have lower body mass
- An increase of 50
grams of brown fat leads up to a weight reduction of 10 to 20 pounds in 1
author and a post graduate scholar at Gladstone Institute, Dr. Baoming Nie said
that brown fat introduction could aid in treating obesity and lowering the risk
for associated metabolic diseases. Current weight loss strategies are more
focused on diet but the current strategy is aimed at monitoring energy
expenditure. The scientists in this study have looked at a completely new
aspect of weight reduction, focusing on improving additional reserves of brown
fat which can boost its role in weight loss. It will aid in utilizing the
energy stored in white fat.
Creating Brown Fat
study that was published in the journal The Cell
, utilized cellular reprogramming methods to convert white fat and
muscle precursor cells into brown fat. There were about 20,000 chemicals that
were tested, before the researchers identified one that converted the identity
of the cells into brown fat effectively.
Anti-Cancer Drug -
most startling aspect of the study has been that an anti-cancer drug, called
, was found to target a protein which
resulted in the generation of brown fat. This target protein is the retinoid X
receptor (RXR) that is involved in the control of various cellular proteins.
When this target protein was activated it
resulted in sequential changes in the muscle precursor cells as well as white
fat which finally lead to their conversion into brown fat like cells. The
mechanism of action that occurred was that the activation of the retinoid X
receptor turned on certain genes that were required for the production of brown
fat and switching off of certain genes that were linked to white fat.
Effective Way to Lose
high calorie diet was fed to mice for 4 weeks after which half of the mice were
treated with the drug bexarotene. The mice that were given the drug were found
- more brown fat
- lower gain in
research on brown fat has generated considerable excitement as it now could
soon be possible to increase the brown fat in the body using a drug. However,
there are serious apprehensions about using the drug, though it is FDA
approved, as it is a drug meant for the treatment of cancer and could lead to a
number of side effects. The next step forward would be to develop a drug that
is safe for use.
Irisin - Hormone
Produced During Exercise
earlier study conducted in 2012 by a research team from Harvard University led
by Dr. Bruce Spiegelman and published in the journal Nature
found that exercising produced a hormone called irisin. This
hormone moved throughout the body and altered fat cells and converting them
into brown fat. This newly developed brown fat continues to burn energy or
calories even after the period of exercise was over.
scientists found that the benefit of irisin was not solely associated with
conversion of white fat into brown fat but they believed that it could play an
important role in lowering the risk for type 2 diabetes, It has always been
known that exercise lowers risk for type 2 diabetes by 60%, irisin was found to
play a role in insulin resistance. The study found that exercising increased
irisin secretion and the scientists were looking at artificially injecting
irisin levels to encourage energy burning.
Drug to Increase Brown
current study by researchers from Gladstone Institute has shown that a drug
meant for humans could increase the amount of brown fat in the body, which
would increase the amount of fat burned by the body and lower body weight of
people who suffer from obesity. There are a number of metabolic diseases that
are associated with obesity and lowering obesity would lower risk of the associated diseases.
- Major fat-burning discovery - (http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/major-fat-burning-discovery)