Scientists Uncover Mechanism That Allows Harmful White Fat to Behave Like Brown Fat

Scientists at the National Institutes of Health have uncovered a pathway in mice that allows white fat to burn calories in a way that's normally found in brown fat -- lowering the risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes.
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July 15, 2011 - PRLog -- Have you heard of the phrase “white fat” before? White fat is used to store calories. However, too much white fat, which leads to obesity, increases the risk of type 2 diabetes and other diseases. Brown fat, on the other hand, generates heat to maintain your body temperature. It also has more in common with muscle, in that it has lots of iron-containing, calorie-burning mitochondria in its cells.

Why all this talk about white and brown fat? Well, here’s some health news you might be interested in: researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have discovered a way of making white fat behave just like brown fat — which means all the fat in your body could potentially behave in a calorie-burning, healthy way.

The NIH researchers made their discovery when they conducted a clinical trial using mice. The research team first reduced the actions of a protein in the mice called “TGF-beta.” They did this in two ways: through genetic engineering; and using an antibody. The antibody was a protein that found and blocked the TGF-beta protein. The TGF-beta proteins were important to the study because they determine the capacity of cells to grow and function normally. However, the researchers found something surprising: without the TGF-beta actions, the mice’s white fat was getting browner with more mitochondria. The resulting increased metabolic activity due to the mitochondria led to burning calories, in turn lessening obesity.

The default behavior of white fat is to store energy. This latest health breakthrough creates a potential way for white fat to burn energy instead.

The TGF-beta blocking antibody is also being tested as an alternative cancer therapy in people through a trial at the National Cancer Institute. The potential side effects of the antibody still need to be tested on humans. In particular, the researchers worry about what unexpected effect the antibody may have on the human immune system.

In the meantime, the researchers’ next plan is to design a more targeted approach to partially transform the white fat of mice into the brown fat or muscle-like state without compromising the immune system.

And remember, you can always get more natural health advice, the latest alternative health breakthroughs and news, plus information about nutrition, alternative remedies and cures and doctors health advice, all free when you sign up for the Doctors Health Press e-Bulletin. Visit now to find out how to start your free subscription.

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Source:Dr.Victor Marchione
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Tags:Alternative Therapy, Burning Calories, Fat, Health Breakthrough, Health News, Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes
Location:Boston - Massachusetts - United States
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