Researchers from Harvard Medical School have been studying a treatment that can help patients lose weight and lower their risk of diabetes. The treatment involves a brown fat transplant; brown fat is a heat-generating, metabolically active fat cell. Unlike white fat, brown fat is associated with a lower body mass index.
A 12-week study on mice was conducted to test the theory of whether brown fat transplants could help overweight mice become thinner and in turn lower their risk of diabetes. The researchers transplanted a tiny portion of brown fat (0.1 grams or 0.4 grams) from thin mice into abdomens of overweight mice. The mice that received the brown fat transplant were tested against two control groups who received either a glass bead or a transplant of white fat.
All three groups consumed the same diet for 12 weeks. The mice that received the brown fat transplant had improved glucose tolerance, increased insulin sensitivity, lower body weight, decreased fat mass, and a complete reversal of high-fat diet-induced insulin resistance.
When brown fat used for transplantation was obtained from IL6 knockout mice the improved metabolic profile was lost. This suggests that the brown fat must work with interleukin-6, an immune system protein that is integral to the body’s metabolism.
Journal of Clinical Investigation, Volume 123, Issue 1, Jan, 2013
Submitted by Sara DAkroub, PharmD Candidate