The compound targets abdominal fat, in particular, and may help reduce oversized guts, the scientists say. Their study was presented today at the 232nd national meeting of the American Chemical Society.
Fucoxanthin is a brownish pigment that gives brown seaweed its characteristic color and also conducts photosynthesis (the conversion of light to energy). It is found at high levels in several different types of brown seaweed, including a type of kelp that is used in traditional Japanese miso soup. But fucoxanthin is not found in abundance in green and red seaweed, which also are used in many Asian foods, the researchers say.
The brown seaweed used in the current study was Undaria pinnatifida, a type of kelp also known as wakame, which is widely consumed in Japan. As kelp forests are found in abundance along the California coast, the new research findings could represent a potentially lucrative market if kelp -- of which there are many varieties -- can be developed into effective anti-obesity drugs, according to the scientists.
"I hope that our study [points to a way to] help reduce obesity in the U.S. and elsewhere," says study leader Kazuo Miyashita, Ph.D., a chemistry professor at Hokkaido University in Hokkaido, Japan. The compound appears to fight fat through two different mechanisms, he says.
The study involved more than 200 rats and mice. In obese animals fed fucoxanthin, the compound appeared to stimulate a protein, UCP1, that causes fat oxidation and conversion of energy to heat, Miyashita says. The protein is found in white adipose tissue, the type of fat that surrounds internal organs. As the abdominal area contains abundant adipose tissue, the compound might be particularly effective at shrinking oversized guts, the researcher says. This is the first time that a natural food component has been shown to reduce fat by targeting the UCP1 protein, he says.
The pigment also appeared in animal studies to stimulate the liver to produce a compound called DHA, a type of omega-3 fatty acid, at levels comparable to fish oil supplementation. Increased levels of DHA reduce 'bad cholesterol' (low density lipoprotein), which is known to contribute to obesity and heart disease. But unlike fish oil supplements, fucoxanthin doesn't have an unpleasant smell, Miyashita says. No adverse side effects from fucoxanthin were reported in the mice and rats used in the study.
But eating lots of seaweed is not the quickest or most convenient path to weight loss, Miyashita cautions. He notes that a person would probably need to eat huge amounts of brown seaweed daily to cause noticeable weight loss. That's because fucoxanthin is tightly bound to proteins in the seaweed and is not easily absorbed in the form of whole seaweed. However, he hopes to extract the most active form of fucoxanthin from brown seaweed so that it can be developed into a pill that people can take daily or as needed.
Human studies are planned, the researcher says, but adds that it may take three to five years before such an anti-obesity pill is available to consumers. Until then, people should continue to eat a well-balanced diet and get plenty of exercise, he says. Funding for the current study was provided by the Japanese government.
Michael Bernstein | EurekAlert!
Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds
26.05.2017 | Cornell University
How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system
26.05.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy