Heart disease and diabetes protection: A gene that prevents obesity?
Researchers have found that removing a gene called USF1 protects mice against heart disease, diabetes and obesity. When laboratory mice were fed a high-fat diet, USF1-deficient mice were able to keep their slender figures while control mice almost doubled in weight.
USF1-deficient mice had higher brown fat activity than control mice. Brown fat helps regulate body temperature by burning fat in order to keep the body warm. Not only did this help protect mice against weight gain (higher activity levels= more fat is burned off without the need for extra exercise), but the brown fat also burned off extra fats and sugars from the bloodstream.
Researchers also found similarities in humans. Humans have brown fat, too, and researchers found that those with a less active form of USF1 were also less likely to suffer from obesity, diabetes and heart disease- just like the mice! Learning about the function of USF1 will hopefully help scientists develop new treatments for these conditions. Read more about it here.