Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Slimming aid from the cell laboratory? Inflammation enzyme regulates the production of brown fat tissue

Date:
May 12, 2010
Source:
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Summary:
Scientists in Germany have found that the COX-2 inflammation enzyme stimulates the formation of new brown fat tissue in mice. Brown fat tissue transforms energy into heat. Therefore, mice with increased COX-2 production have a higher energy consumption and are slimmer. On the basis of these results scientists might develop a novel weight loss method for pathogenic obesity.

Brown fat cells within white fat tissue.
Credit: Karin Mόller-Decker, Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum

Scientists of the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) have published an article in Science revealing that the COX-2 inflammation enzyme stimulates the formation of new brown fat tissue in mice. Brown fat tissue transforms energy into heat. Therefore, mice with increased COX-2 production have a higher energy consumption and are slimmer. On the basis of these results scientists might develop a novel weight loss method for pathogenic obesity.

Love handles, muffin tops and stomach tires -- white fat tissue forms the typical curves in the notorious problem areas to store energy. Exactly the opposite happens in brown fat tissue: Instead of being stored, energy gets transformed into heat. To the dismay of many people, adults have only small amounts of this energy burner. By contrast, babies and animals in hibernation have lots of it in their bodies where it serves for heat regulation.

Researchers know that external influences can stimulate the production of brown fat tissue in animals. If rodents are kept at low temperatures, clusters of brown fat cells form amid the white fat tissue. A DKFZ research team headed by Dr. Stephan Herzig, jointly with colleagues from Munich, Marburg, Frankfurt and Lausanne, has investigated the molecular causes of this phenomenon. They discovered that the production of the COX-2 inflammation enzyme is increased in white fat tissue of mice after exposure to cold temperatures. COX-2 is well known to scientists: It regulates the key step in the biosynthesis of prostaglandins -- inflammation-promoting hormones which are also responsible for activating pain.

"Our recent results prove that COX-2 and prostaglandins are crucial for the formation of new brown fat tissue and, thus, also for regulating body weight," said Stephan Herzig summarizing his data. Parallel to the increase in COX-2 production in white fat tissue, there is also a rising level of the protein which biochemically transforms energy into heat and is therefore considered the most important biomarker for brown fat cells. When the investigators switched off COX-2 in the white fat tissue, however, the typical appearance of brown fat cells could no longer be stimulated by the cold.

Even without using cold temperatures the scientists were able to stimulate the formation of brown fat cell clusters in white fat tissue by boosting the COX-2 production in mice using a molecular-biological trick. The body weight of these animals was 20 percent lower than that of normal animals. Even on a calorie-rich diet they did not put on weight.

Previous studies by researchers from Finland suggest that in humans, too, the activity, i.e. heat production of brown fat tissue can be stimulated by regular stays in the cold. Stephan Herzig now plans to investigate whether COX-2 also plays the biochemical key role here. Since the formation of brown fat cells can also be stimulated in the culture dish, Herzig sees a possibility for practical use of his results. His vision is to take white fat tissue from severely obese individuals, to stimulate the formation of brown fat cells using prostaglandins in the culture dish, and then transplant them back to the patient. Thus it would be possible to help people by boosting their energy metabolism and thus making weight loss easier. Scientists estimate that a small amount of about 50 grams of brown fat tissue would be sufficient to increase a person's energy metabolism by 20 percent. This would be equal to a reduction of body weight by 20 kilograms over a period of one year.

Clinical trials with cancer patients have already indirectly revealed that COX-2 has an influence on body weight. Thus, the body weight of patients suffering from severe cancer-related wasting stabilized due to COX-2 inhibiting drugs. But a number of common pain relievers also act by inhibiting COX-2. Does that mean that users have to accept weight gain as a side effect? Herzig has good news: "So far, we have found no evidence suggesting that one has to fear gaining weight from taking these drugs."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. A. Vegiopoulos, K. Muller-Decker, D. Strzoda, I. Schmitt, E. Chichelnitskiy, A. Ostertag, M. B. Diaz, J. Rozman, M. Hrabe de Angelis, R. M. Nusing, C. W. Meyer, W. Wahli, M. Klingenspor, S. Herzig. Cyclooxygenase-2 Controls Energy Homeostasis in Mice by de Novo Recruitment of Brown Adipocytes. Science, 2010; DOI: 10.1126/science.1186034

Cite This Page:

Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. "Slimming aid from the cell laboratory? Inflammation enzyme regulates the production of brown fat tissue." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100507111835.htm>.
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. (2010, May 12). Slimming aid from the cell laboratory? Inflammation enzyme regulates the production of brown fat tissue. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100507111835.htm
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. "Slimming aid from the cell laboratory? Inflammation enzyme regulates the production of brown fat tissue." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100507111835.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) — The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) — Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

AFP (July 24, 2014) — America's death penalty debate raged Thursday after it took nearly two hours for Arizona to execute a prisoner who lost a Supreme Court battle challenging the experimental lethal drug cocktail. Duration: 00:55 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) — A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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