Giving Brown Fat A Green Light

World (Tasnim) – Since the discovery in 2009 that brown fat can be active in adult humans, researchers around the world have worked to unveil ways to switch on this fat. Scientists at Joslin Diabetes Center have now identified a new route to throw the switch.

Activated by cold, the small amounts of brown fat scattered around your body can burn calories to warm you up. They also can help to lower insulin resistance and other conditions implicated in type 2 diabetes and obesity.

The investigators have shown that a lipid (a fat-like substance) called 12,13-diHOME that circulates in the blood signals brown fat cells in mice to fuel up with other lipids, said Matthew Lynes, a Joslin postdoctoral researcher and lead author on a paper describing the work in the journal Nature Medicine.

In one experiment, obese mice given low levels of the molecule produced reduced levels of blood triglycerides — other forms of lipids that can increase risks for heart disease and diabetes in humans.

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Although the Joslin team hasn’t shown that 12,13-diHOME also triggers brown fat activation in humans, the lipid could aid research by acting as a biomarker for the process, noted Yu-Hua Tseng, Ph.D., a Joslin principal investigator and senior author on the paper. Today, researchers in the field must detect brown fat activation by injecting volunteers with tiny amounts of radioactive glucose and scanning them via positron emission tomography (PET), which is a difficult and expensive method.

The researchers now are gathering more details on the molecular mechanisms by which 12,13-diHOME may affect brown fat activation. If the lipid does indeed assist in activating brown fat in humans, it may offer a route toward therapies, and the route may attract particular interest because we produce this substance naturally. “We would like to take our research from the bench to the bedside by engaging with clinical investigators here at Joslin,” Tseng said.

This report prepared by Tasnim News Agency.