Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study unlocks origin of brown fat cells, important in weight maintenance

Date:
September 26, 2013
Source:
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Summary:
In ongoing research aimed at battling obesity, researchers have deciphered how new fat cells are formed in energy-storing fat pads.

In ongoing research aimed at battling obesity, UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers have deciphered how new fat cells are formed in energy-storing fat pads.

In particular, researchers sought to find out the origin of "brown" fat cells and whether humans can make more of them in order to burn extra calories -- a finding that could have significant impact in battling obesity and related diseases.

"Much of the current excitement in the obesity field stems from recent observations highlighting that, even as adults, we have the ability to generate brown fat cells in response to cold exposure. Unlike white fat cells that mostly just store fat, brown adipocytes keep us warm by burning fat at a high rate," said Dr. Philipp Scherer, Director of the Touchstone Center for Diabetes Research at UT Southwestern and senior author of the study available online at Nature Medicine.

While generation of brown fat cells previously was thought to be mostly relevant for rodents and human infants, Dr. Scherer said, current evidence points to the observation that adults also generate these cells when exposed to cold.

Brown fat cells in adults tend to be randomly interspersed in subcutaneous white fat, with a trend toward increased accumulation in the upper chest and neck areas. In general, brown fat tissue makes up just a small percentage of total body fat mass.

The Touchstone Center's staff devotes its efforts to the study of cells and tissues that either contribute to, or are affected by, diabetes and its related diseases, including the physiology of fat tissue. In this study, the UT Southwestern research team examined the timing and nature of changes in fat cell composition in response to weight gain, cold exposure, and development. Genetic tools developed at the medical center over the past eight years were used to label all pre-existing fat cells. Researchers then were able to track where new fat cells emerged.

When mice were exposed to high-fat diets, significant differences between the types of white fat deposits were observed -- subcutaneous fat deposits took their existing fat cells and made them bigger, while other deposits were more prone to generating new fat cells. Brown fat cells did not form during this experiment, nor during a test that monitored early growth-related development. Only when exposed to cold did new brown fat cells appear.

"The major finding is that the cold-induced adaptation and appearance of brown fat cells involves the generation of completely new cells rather than a retooling of pre-existing white fat cells into brown fat cells in response to the cold," Dr. Scherer said.

The researchers next hope to translate these findings into clinical use, with future efforts directed toward therapeutic strategies to activate precursor cells to become new brown fat cells rather than to convert white fat cells into brown fat cells.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by UT Southwestern Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Qiong A Wang, Caroline Tao, Rana K Gupta, Philipp E Scherer. Tracking adipogenesis during white adipose tissue development, expansion and regeneration. Nature Medicine, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/nm.3324

Cite This Page:

UT Southwestern Medical Center. "Study unlocks origin of brown fat cells, important in weight maintenance." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130926102259.htm>.
UT Southwestern Medical Center. (2013, September 26). Study unlocks origin of brown fat cells, important in weight maintenance. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130926102259.htm
UT Southwestern Medical Center. "Study unlocks origin of brown fat cells, important in weight maintenance." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130926102259.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) In a potential breakthrough for future obesity treatments, scientists have used MRI scans to pinpoint brown fat in a living adult for the first time. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) President Barack Obama gave a briefing Thursday announcing 8 million people have signed up under the Affordable Care Act. He blasted continued Republican efforts to repeal the law. (April 17) Video provided by AP
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