Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Joslin researchers identify pathways leading to activation of good fat

21.09.2011
Molecular pathways could play important role in the fight against obesity and diabetes

Researchers at the Joslin Diabetes Center have identified for the first time two molecular pathways that are critical to activating a type of "good" fat found in the body, a discovery that could play an important role in the fight against obesity and diabetes.

The fat, called brown fat, actually burns energy rather than storing it, which the more common white fat does.

The study, published in the October issue of Endocrinology, sought to learn more about how to get brown fat cells to grow. It identified two molecular pathways that lead to a protein called necdin that blocks brown fat growth.

With this information, researchers can look for ways to modify the steps along the pathways, either to stimulate another protein, called CREB, which shuts down necdin, or block a different protein called FoxO1, located along the second pathway, which stimulates necdin. The study showed for the first time that the two proteins can bind directly to the necdin gene.

"This is a very important piece of the puzzle," said Aaron Cypess, MD, PhD an assistant investigator and staff physician at Joslin and lead author of the paper. "It provides new opportunities. The point is that we have got to learn how to grow these brown fat cells. There's a lot of missing information. We filled in some of the important missing pieces."

Based on previous research, including a 2005 paper by Yu-Hua Tseng, Ph.D., a Joslin investigator who also is senior author of today's paper, there was some evidence that the two pathways were important to the process of brown fat growth.

In today's study, the researchers conducted tests in vitro on different cell lines derived from brown fat taken from mice. "We used different drugs to stimulate or block the signaling pathways that we thought were important," Dr. Cypess said. "The result was that we defined the two pathways. We found what goes to what to cause something to happen to the cells."

One pathway to necdin starts with insulin cells and runs through proteins called Ras and ERK1/2 before getting to CREB. The second also starts with insulin and runs through proteins called P13-K and Akt before getting to FoxO1.

"Both pathways get you there," Dr. Cypess said.

"With this more detailed description of the pathways leading to (brown fat tissue), there can be more focused attempts to develop interventions using brown fat as a treatment for obesity and diabetes," the paper concludes.

One intervention could be to grow brown fat in a laboratory and transplant it into the bodies of people who need it. Another could be the development of drugs to stimulate brown fat growth.

This is the latest in a series of studies on brown fat led by Drs. Cypess and Tseng. In July, Dr. Cypess and his team showed that brown fat can be seen on imaging studies in nearly half of all children and is most active in those who are thin. The amount of the fat also increases in children up until puberty, when it begins to decline, according to that study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

In 2009, Dr. Cypess and his team demonstrated in the New England Journal of Medicine for the first time that brown fat is metabolically active in adult humans. Previously, it had been thought that brown fat was present only in babies and children. The 2009 study showed it was found to be active under normal living conditions in 5.4 percent of all adults, with higher rates in women.

A 2008 Joslin study published in Nature by Dr. Tseng and colleagues discovered that a protein called BMP7 could induce brown fat formation. Another more recent 2011 study from Tseng's group identified precursor cells in mice that can be triggered by BMP7 and other inducers to transform into brown fat.

Concerning the small percentage of people in whom brown fat was detected in the 2009 imaging study, Tseng said it is possible that a much higher percentage of people have brown fat -- possibly everybody -- but that it simply was not able to be detected in the study because the scanners were not sensitive enough or because it might not have been activated in most people.

Either way, she said she considers the study of brown fat to be a "very important" issue because it offers a potential treatment for the obesity epidemic.

"Brown fat burns energy," she said. "It is a special tissue. These studies have opened up a new avenue for the treatment of obesity and its related disorders. This study will help us deepen our understanding of brown fat formation and could in the future combined with other information that we have learned be used to develop drugs or other interventions for obesity. But we still need to know more."

Co-authors of today's study include Hongbin Zhang, Tim J. Schultz, Tian Lian Huang and David O. Espinosa, all of Joslin; Karsten Kristiansen of the University of Southern Denmark; and Terry G. Unterman of the University of Illinois.

The study was funded by the Eli Lilly Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

About Joslin Diabetes Center

Joslin Diabetes Center is the world's preeminent diabetes research and clinical care organization. Joslin is dedicated to ensuring that people with diabetes live long, healthy lives and offers real hope and progress toward diabetes prevention and a cure. Joslin is an independent, nonprofit institution affiliated with Harvard Medical School.

For more information about Joslin, visit www.joslin.org.

Keep up with Joslin research and clinical news at Inside Joslin at www.joslin.org/news/inside_joslin.html,

Become a fan of Joslin on Facebook at www.facebook.com/joslindiabetes

And follow Joslin on Twitter at www.twitter.com/joslindiabetes

Jeffrey Bright | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.joslin.org

Further reports about: BMP7 CREB Diabetes FOXO1 Joslin fat cells molecular pathway signaling pathway

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Malaria Already Endemic in the Mediterranean by the Roman Period
27.07.2017 | Universität Zürich

nachricht Serious children’s infections also spreading in Switzerland
26.07.2017 | Universitätsspital Bern

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Physicists Design Ultrafocused Pulses

Physicists working with researcher Oriol Romero-Isart devised a new simple scheme to theoretically generate arbitrarily short and focused electromagnetic fields. This new tool could be used for precise sensing and in microscopy.

Microwaves, heat radiation, light and X-radiation are examples for electromagnetic waves. Many applications require to focus the electromagnetic fields to...

Im Focus: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Programming cells with computer-like logic

27.07.2017 | Life Sciences

Identified the component that allows a lethal bacteria to spread resistance to antibiotics

27.07.2017 | Life Sciences

Malaria Already Endemic in the Mediterranean by the Roman Period

27.07.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>