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Growing Healthier Fat

Dec 26, 2014

A new study has identified the mechanisms that turn white fat into healthier brown fat…

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Researchers from the University of Southern Denmark utilized advanced genome sequencing techniques and found that a protein called KLF11 found in all fat cells and which regulates their expression could be manipulated to turn white adipose tissue into brown. In turning some of this white fat into brown fat, obese patients could be helped to lose weight, and their risk of obesity-related diseases like heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers might be reduced.

Although current evidence on the topic has found that simply being in a cold environment could stimulate the growth of brown fat, doing so just isn’t practical. So, researchers have been working on therapeutic techniques. In another study published in 2012, a diabetes drug activated a cell receptor called PPAR-gamma, which affects metabolism and increases insulin sensitivity, leading to the growth of brown fat from white fat.

Through establishing a way to convert white fat to brown fat in humans, the researchers may be able to impact obesity rates through the US.

Practice Pearls:

  • White fat accounts for the majority of fat in the body, and in excessive amounts is considered unhealthy and a culprit in obesity-related diseases.
  • Brown fat accounts for 5% of the fat in our bodies, and is characterized in small droplet sizes, and rich in energy producing mitochondria that burns calories.
  • Researchers have found common protein called KLF11 that is responsible in the conversion and can be manipulated in ways that may reduce the obesity rates in the future.

Mandrup S, Loft A, Forss L, et al. Browning of human adipocytes requires KLF11 and reprogramming of PPAR super-enhancers. Genes and Development. 2014. Web 17 Dec 201