Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists Create Energy-Burning Brown Fat in Mice

31.07.2009
Researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have shown that they can engineer mouse and human cells to produce brown fat, a natural energy-burning type of fat that counteracts obesity. If such a strategy can be developed for use in people, the scientists say, it could open a novel approach to treating obesity and diabetes.

A team led by Bruce Spiegelman, PhD, has identified both parts of a molecular switch that normally causes some immature muscle cells in the embryo to become brown fat cells.

With this switch in hand, the scientists showed they could manipulate it to force other types of cells in the laboratory to produce brown fat, known as Brown Adipose Tissue (BAT). Their findings are being reported in the journal Nature on its Web site as an advanced online publication on July 29.

The scientists then transplanted these synthetic brown fat precursors, known as eBAT (engineered BAT), into adult mice to augment their innate stores of brown fat. Tests showed that the brown fat transplants were burning caloric energy at a high rate -- energy that otherwise would have been stored as fat in white adipose tissue.

"Since brown fat cells have very high capacity to dissipate excess energy and counteract obesity, eBAT has a very high potential for treating obesity," said Shingo Kajimura, PhD, lead author of the paper. "We are currently working on this."

Excess caloric energy in the diet is stored in white fat calls that pile up in the body, particularly in the thighs and abdomen. The accumulated fat content in overweight people puts stress on these cells, which give out signals that cause inflammation in body organs and the circulatory system, creating risks of heart disease and diabetes.

Brown fat, by contrast, works in an opposite fashion; it evolved to protect animals from cold conditions and prevent obesity. Brown fat cells are equipped with a large supply of mitochondria -- tiny organelles that use oxygen to burn sugar from the diet to generate heat, rather than store the energy as fat.

Scientists have long thought that brown fat was present in young animals and human newborns but virtually absent in human adults. Recently, however, researchers have used modern PET (positron emission tomography) scanners -- which detect tissue that is actively absorbing sugar -- to search for deposits of brown fat in adults. Such experiments have revealed unexpectedly large amounts of brown fat scattered through the neck and chest areas.

In 2007, Spiegelman's team, led by Patrick Seale, PhD, who is the second author of the new Nature paper, discovered a protein, PRDM16, that serves as a switch that determines whether immature muscle cells will develop into mature muscle cells or become brown fat cells.

But this was not the whole story. The scientists suspected that PRDM16 worked with another unknown protein to initiate brown fat development. This proved to be the case. In the new experiments, the Spiegelman group found that PRMD16 works in tandem with the protein C/EBP-beta, and only as a two-part unit are they sufficient to jump-start brown fat development in several types of cells.

To find out if the PRDM16-C/EBP-beta switch could change the identity of other types of cells, forcing them to become brown fat cells, the researchers used viruses to transfer the switch into embryonic mouse connective tissue cells called fibroblasts. They also installed the switch into adult mouse skin cells, and into human skin cells isolated from foreskins removed from newborns during circumcision.

In all three cases, the fibroblasts produced mature brown fat cells. The scientists then transplanted the cells into mice, where they produced brown fat tissue. PET scans confirmed that the new brown fat tissue was burning excess energy in the animals, as they should. The experiments did not test whether the extra brown fat actually protected the mice from becoming obese.

Spiegelman said the results "give a lot more credence" to efforts to manipulate the brown fat switch as a potential means of treating people with obesity and diabetes. One strategy would be to remove some tissue from the patient, add the PRDM16-C/EBP switch, and return it to the patient where it would manufacture additional brown fat.

A more conventional possibility would be to administer a drug to the patient that would ramp up the production of brown fat without the need for a transplant, said Spiegelman, who is also a professor of cell biology at Harvard Medical School. "If we can find a hormone that does that, it's reasonable to think that it might provide a direct anti-obesity treatment."

Other authors on the paper are Kazuishi Kubota, PhD, and Steven P. Gygi, PhD, of Harvard Medical School, and Elaine Lunsford and John V. Frangioni, MD, PhD, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

The research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Picower Foundation.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (www.dana-farber.org) is a principal teaching affiliate of the Harvard Medical School and is among the leading cancer research and care centers in the United States. It is a founding member of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC), designated a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute.

Bill Schaller | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.dana-farber.org

Further reports about: Energy-Burning Fat Medical Wellness Mice Nature Immunology PET scan PRDM16 fat cells fat tissue skin cell

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Organ-on-a-chip mimics heart's biomechanical properties
23.02.2017 | Vanderbilt University

nachricht Researchers identify cause of hereditary skeletal muscle disorder
22.02.2017 | Klinikum der Universität München

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: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>