Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers Shed Light On Fat Burning

Date:
February 6, 2009
Source:
Georgia State University
Summary:
Researchers have found that fat cells give feedback to the brain in order to regulate fat burning much the same way a thermostat regulates temperature inside a house.

Researchers at Georgia State University have found that fat cells give feedback to the brain in order to regulate fat burning much the same way a thermostat regulates temperature inside a house.

Related Articles


With as increase in obesity threatening the health and life expectancies of people across the world, the research may help scientists better understand how weight is shed.

C. Kay Song and Tim Bartness of Georgia State, along with Gary J. Schwartz of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, found that during the process of burning fat — called lipolysis — fat cells use sensory nerves to feed information to the brain.

Using viruses to trace communications in the nerves of Siberian hamsters, they found that the brain uses part of the nervous system used to regulate body functions, called the sympathetic nervous system, to in turn communicate back to the cells to initiate, continue or stop the fat burning depending upon the information the brain receives from the fat.

"The brain can trigger lipid burning by fat cells and through these sensory nerves, the fat cell can give the brain feedback," Bartness explained. "This is a really important concept in biology, as it can regulate the process of lipolysis much like how a thermostat regulates temperature in your house, using input from the air and output to a furnace or heating unit.

"The presence and function of the sensory nerves has been completely ignored and the areas in the brain that receive this sensory information were unknown until we did these studies," he said.

When the body has a low amount of a type of readily available fuel, a carbohydrate called glycogen, the body starts lipolysis to release energy stored in fats. At the end nerves which are part of the sympathetic nervous system, a chemical called norepinephrine is released to trigger the breakdown of fat.

Sensory nerves then appear to report back to the brain to inform it of the status of the lipolysis, communicating whether too much or too little energy has been released — and the activity of the sympathetic nerves can be adjusted accordingly.

"If you're doing a moderate amount of exercise or even if it has been a fairly long interval since you last ate, you will use up all or most of the available glycogen, necessitating the break down fat to yield sufficient energy," he said. "But you don't want to break down more than you need. So, this would be a way to stop the sympathetic nervous system from triggering the release of too much lipid energy from fat."

Bartness said that though this communication process is known to play a role in the short-term burning of fat, researchers are not sure whether this process is involved with the long-term issues of burning fat — important in understanding obesity and why some people burn fat more readily than others.

"It could be that sensory nerves have a dual function," he explained. "In addition to the moment-to-moment lipolysis process, they might also have a longer term function. It's complicated, and it might be a different subset of the sensory nerves performing the long-term monitoring of fat reserves."

The research appears in the March edition of the American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Georgia State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Georgia State University. "Researchers Shed Light On Fat Burning." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 February 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090205133826.htm>.
Georgia State University. (2009, February 6). Researchers Shed Light On Fat Burning. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090205133826.htm
Georgia State University. "Researchers Shed Light On Fat Burning." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090205133826.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Scientists in Amsterdam say couples transfer tens of millions of microbes when they kiss, encouraging healthy exposure to bacteria. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Cambridge scientists have unravelled the genetic code of a rare tapeworm that lived inside a patient's brain for at least four year. Researchers hope it will present new opportunities to diagnose and treat this invasive parasite. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A touch-free phone developed in Israel enables the mobility-impaired to operate smart phones with just a movement of the head. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins