Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

“Love handles” melt away at the push of a button

24.04.2013
For a long time, scientists have dreamt of converting undesirable white fat cells into brown fat cells and thus simply have excess pounds melt away.

Researchers at the University of Bonn have now gotten a step closer to this goal: They decoded a “toggle switch” in mice which can significantly stimulate fat burning. The results are now being presented in the scientifc journal “Nature Communications”.

Many people not only in industrialized nations struggle with excess weight - but all fat is not alike. “Love handles” in particular contain troublesome white fat cells which store excess food. Brown fat cells are the exact opposite: they burn excess energy as the desirable “heaters” of the body. Scientists at the University of Bonn working with Prof. Dr. Alexander Pfeifer, Director of the Institute for Pharmacology and Toxicology, have spent years using animal models to explore how the undesirable white fat can be converted into sought-after brown fat. “In this way, excess pounds may be able to simply be melted away and obesity combated“, says Prof. Pfeifer.

A kind of “trigger switch” spurs fat burning

The researchers have now decoded a “microRNA switch” in mice which is important for brown fat cells. Micro-RNAs are located in the genome of cells and very quickly and efficiently regulate gene activity. The researchers studied a specific microRNA: microRNA 155. The gene regulator micro-RNA 155 inhibits a certain transcription factor, that controls brown fat cell function. Surprisingly, Prof. Pfeifer and his team found that the transcription factor also regulates the levels microRNA 155 establishing a tight feed-back loop that works like a toggle switch: When the microRNA is highly expressed brown fat cell differentiation is blocked; conversely, if the transcription factor wins the upper hand, brown fat is produced at an increased level and this in turn boosts fat burning in the body.

In knockout mice, the gene for Micro-RNA 155 was silent

The researchers at Bonn University and their colleagues from the Federal Institute of Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) and from the University of Regensburg worked with so-called transgenic and knockout mice in whom the gene for micro-RNA 155 was either increased or silenced. “The mechanism was already set in motion when the micro-RNA 155 was only halved in the mice,” reports lead author Yong Chen, graduate student of the NRW International Graduate School BIOTECH-PHARMA. The mice then had significantly more brown fat cells available than did the control gro up - and had even converted white fat cells into brown fat cells.

Clues to the causes of lipid metabolism diseases

The micro-RNA functions as an antagonist to the brown fat cells. ”As long as enough micro-RNA 155 is present, the production of brown fat cells is blocked,” says Chen. Only if it falls below a certain proportion does this brake let up; the blueprint for brown fat can be read and implemented by the cell - the desired fat burners can develop. These findings help scientists better understand the causes of lipid metabolism diseases.

Hope for new therapies against obesity

The scientists at the University of Bonn see in their results a potential starting point for drugs to combat obesity. The researchers have clues to the fact that the results, if anything, can be transferred from mice to humans. Thus, for example, researchers in Leipzig found increased levels of micro-RNA 155 in significantly overweight patients. This corresponds to findings from animal models: A lot of micro-RNA 155 is associated with reduced fat burning. “However, we are still in the basic research stage,” says Prof. Pfeifer. The path to suitable drugs is still a long one.
Publication: miR-155 regulates differentiation of brown and beige adipocytes via a bistable circuit, Nature Communications, DOI: 10.1038/ncomms2742

Contact Information:

Prof. Dr. Alexander Pfeifer
Institute for Pharmacology and Toxicology
Tel. 0228/28751300
E-Mail: alexander.pfeifer@uni-bonn.de

Johannes Seiler | idw
Further information:
http://www.uni-bonn.de

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht The genes are not to blame
20.07.2018 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Targeting headaches and tumors with nano-submarines
20.07.2018 | Universitätsmedizin der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

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: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>