Obesity and obesity: How brown fat turns into harmful white fat

Important factor discovered in the development of obesity-associated inflammation

A study was published a few months ago, showing that people with a significantly higher proportion of brown fat do not become overweight despite a higher food intake. As a team of researchers has now found, this fat also plays an essential role in the development of obesity-associated inflammation.

Brown fat helps you lose weight

Scientists from the University of North Carolina and Columbia University (both in the United States) reported last year about a new fat pathway patch designed to help you lose weight by converting white fat, which normally stores energy, to brown fat, which burns the energy. A medical plaster designed by researchers from Singapore that was able to reduce belly fat by more than 30 percent is also based on this effect. Austrian researchers are now reporting on the consequences of converting brown to white adipose tissue.

Of great interest for therapies against obesity or diabetes

In the cold, brown adipose tissue acts like a heating element, the activity of which is beneficial for the energy balance, according to a statement from the Technical University of Munich (TUM).

This metabolic activity of brown fat decreases with increasing age in humans. In addition, it is less active in diabetics or obese. That is why scientists are researching the factors that keep brown fat active.

Because it has the ability to burn energy from carbohydrates and fat, it is of great interest for therapies against obesity or diabetes.

Now the results of a study have been published in the journal "Journal of Lipid Research", which show what happens when brown turns into white fat.

Inflammation in the adipose tissue

With obesity (obesity) there are inflammatory reactions in the human adipose tissue.

A large part of this inflammation arises because brown adipose tissue is converted into white. Scientists at the University of Graz discovered this.

As stated in a communication from the university, the work expands knowledge about the complex interactions as a prerequisite for new therapeutic approaches.

At least two different types of adipose tissue

Humans and mammals basically have at least two different types of fat: white and brown.

The former stores fat - preferably in the well-known pads on the abdomen and thighs. If the body needs energy, it can use these depots.

Brown adipose tissue, on the other hand, is essential for generating heat. That's why babies, like animals that hibernate, have a lot of it.

But adult people also have smaller accumulations of brown adipose tissue. What role it plays in connection with obesity-associated inflammation has now been shown for the first time in the mouse model.

Process could also play a role in diabetes and cardiovascular disease

"In addition to the known changes in white, there are also fundamental changes in brown adipose tissue in obese individuals," explains Petra Kotzbeck, first author of the publication mentioned.

"The brown fat cells, which actually have many small lipid droplets, are similar in appearance to the white fat cells and increase in size," says the molecular biologist, who was doing research at the University of Graz as part of her dissertation and is now working at the Medical University of Graz .

"If the storage capacity of these whitened fat cells is exceeded, they die and trigger inflammatory reactions that are much stronger than those in the classic white adipose tissue."

According to the information, the researchers have shown for the first time in their work that the whitening of brown adipose tissue can be observed, among other things, in obesity and can be largely responsible for the typical inflammation.

"Our new findings suggest that this process could also play a role in diabetes and cardiovascular diseases," said Kotzbeck. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: Bodys bad fat could be transformed into brown fat (December 2021).