Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Researchers at the University of Bonn boost fat-burning


The number of overweight people is increasing worldwide – and thus the risk of developing diabetes or cardiovascular disease. For this reason, many dream of an active substance which would simply melt off fat deposits. An international team of scientists has now come one small step closer to this dream: The team discovered a switch in the fat cells of mice and humans with which excess pounds can be burned off. If the Gq protein is blocked, undesired white fat cells change into energy-consuming brown cells. The results are now being presented in the renowned journal "Nature Communications".

Significantly overweight people have a particularly large number of white fat cells but in contrast, they lack brown fat cells. The white cells are responsible for bothersome fat deposits; conversely, the brown cells "burn off" unwanted pounds by releasing the energy stored in them in the form of heat.

In the lab: Prof. Dr. Alexander Pfeifer and Katarina Klepac from the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology at University of Bonn.

© Photo: Barbara Frommann/Uni Bonn

Prof. Dr. Alexander Pfeifer from the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Bonn has spent years researching how harmful white fat cells can be converted into desirable brown fat cells.

"We are looking for targets for new pharmaceutical products to one day be able to effectively combat obesity as the cause of numerous widespread diseases, such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease," says the scientist. If the researchers' dream comes true, brown fat cells could be boosted with yet-to-be-developed active substances such that rolls of fat could simply be melted off. "However, we still have a long way to go," says Prof. Pfeifer. His studies are still in the basic research stage.

There is a particularly high number of Gq proteins in brown fat cells

An international team of scientists working with Prof. Pfeifer, under the leadership of the University of Bonn, with colleagues from San Diego and Bethesda (both USA), Gothenburg (Sweden) and the Universities of Heidelberg and Leipzig, has discovered a "switch" in the fat cells of mice which can be used to accelerate fat burning. The researchers observed that there is a particularly high number of receptors in brown fat cells which bind to the Gq protein. The Gq protein performs an important function in information transfer.

The scientists activated the Gq protein in the mouse fat cells and as a result, the number and quality of the brown cells decreased. "On the other hand, if Gq is blocked with an inhibitor, more brown fat cells mature," says Ph.D. student Katarina Klepac from Prof. Pfeifer's team. The same applies to the beige fat cells on which the researchers are pinning their hopes. They can convert from white to brown fat cells and are also involved in "burning" excess energy stores. If the Gq protein is blocked in them, more brown "fat burners" form.

The conversion also works for human fat cells

Does the inhibition of the Gq proteins only work in mouse cells or also in human fat cells? The team of researchers conducted the experiments – which had previously been performed on rodent cells – also on human cells which they cultured in the laboratory. "Even in human fat cells, it was shown that brown fat cells can grow much better once Gq proteins were blocked," says Prof. Pfeifer.

According to the researcher, this could be a highly promising potential starting point for the development of active substances which boost fat burning in obese patients. "To date, there are no drugs which directly cause white fat cells to convert into brown fat cells," says Prof. Pfeifer. It will still be some time until suitable active substances are available on the market.

Publication: The Gq signalling pathway inhibits brown and beige adipose tissue, Nature Communications, DOI: 10.1038/NCOMMS10895

Media contact information:

Prof. Dr. Alexander Pfeifer
Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology
University of Bonn
Tel. ++49-228-28751300

Weitere Informationen: Publication online

Johannes Seiler | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht NIH scientists describe potential antibody treatment for multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae
14.03.2018 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

nachricht Researchers identify key step in viral replication
13.03.2018 | University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

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: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>