Obesity: Activation of Brown Fat Improves Glucose Metabolism in Mice
Dr. Jan-Wilhelm Kornfeld and Professor Jen C. Bruning with the Max Plank Institute for Metabolism and the University of Cologne are leading a research collaborative looking at the activation of brown fat in obese mice. The study is targeting the inhibition of a protein that blocks the activation and use of brown fat in healthy metabolism.
There are two types of fat present in humans, white and brown. White fat functions as additional calorie storage, and with excess accumulation can lead to increased obesity and type 2 diabetes. Brown fat is less understood and is less abundant in adults; it primarily functions to generate body heat in infants who are unable to shiver.
The research team discovered that there is a decreased amount of a microRNA miR328 in brown fat of obese mice, leading to the increased expression of a protein called Bace1. High Bace1 content in these mice is suggested to be one of the causes of metabolic syndrome, and also has been found in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Bace1 inhibitors are in the process of being developed for Alzheimer’s treatments. With additional studies into Bace1 interactions in metabolism, blocking the protein could also act as an alternative treatment for type 2 diabetes by improving glucose metabolic function.
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