Brown fat cells can burn fat to generate heat. University of Bonn researchers have discovered a new method to measure the activity of brown fat cells in humans and mice. The researchers showed that microRNA-92a can be used as an indirect measure for the activity of energy consuming brown fat cells. They showed that a small blood sample was sufficient. Results were published in “Nature Communications,” a well-known scientific journal.
People who want to lose weight often encounter boundaries: No matter what diet they try, the pounds won’t drop. Being overweight and obese can have severe health consequences, and has shown to increase a person’s chance of developing type-2-diabetes or cardiovascular diseases.
Prof. Dr. Alexander Pfeifer, head of the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology of the University Bonn, has been investigating brown fat in mice for years. He has been trying to understand how to turn unfavored white fat cells into energy-consuming brown ones. Brown fat cells can “burn” excessive energy by producing heat instead of storing fat.
Prof. Pfeifer´s team has discovered multiple signaling cascades and possible drug targets in rodents that are responsible for the conversion from white-energy-storing to brown-energy-consuming fat cells. However, for these basic research findings to become human treatment, clinical trials are needed to discover which drug is most efficient in activating brown fat and has few or no side effects.
These clinical trials are hampered because so far no method is on the market to measure the brown fat activity without health risk and expensive equipment.
Brown fat cells release miR-92a into the circulation
In collaboration with the University Maastricht (Netherlands), Turku (Finland) and the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf, researchers in Prof. Pfeifer’s group found an easy way to display brown fat activity: miR-92a. miRNAs are known to be responsible for the regulation of genes.
The researchers showed for the first time that brown fat cells deliver these microRNAs into the blood by packaging into so-called exosomes, which “can be seen as little packages that are delivered by the brown fat cells through the circulation.” However, Prof. Pfeiffer said, “to whom the packages are delivered is yet unknown.”
Many miRNAs were investigated during the investigation. miR-92a is present in human and mice – importantly – this microRNA is related to brown fat activity. Whenever miR-92a is low in circulation, people can burn a lot of energy with brown fat. To prove the connection in humans, scientists tested 41 participants from Finland and the Netherlands. “We found a significant relation between brown fat activity and miR-92a that needs to be proven in larger cohorts,” said co-first author Joschka Johannes Buyel, a PhD student in Prof. Pfeifer´s lab. Measuring miR-92a would allow for a much more accurate measure of the brown fat activity.
Biomarker might enable for efficacy testing of new pharmaceuticals
“miR-92a seems to be a promising biomarker to test new drugs in the field of weight reduction or transition from white-to-brown fat in humans; this promising biomarker should be tested in larger cohorts” said Prof. Pfeifer. This new method might enable advances in obesity research and related fields.
Prof. Dr. Alexander Pfeifer
Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology
University of Bonn
Johannes Seiler | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Plasmonic biosensors enable development of new easy-to-use health tests
14.12.2017 | Aalto University
ASU scientists develop new, rapid pipeline for antimicrobials
14.12.2017 | Arizona State University
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong
Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
14.12.2017 | Health and Medicine
14.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
14.12.2017 | Life Sciences