Exercise hormone irisin helps burn calories via brown fat

Benedict Jephcote
Mon, 03 Oct 2016
Exercise hormone irisin helps burn calories via brown fat
A recently discovered hormone, called irisin, which is released during exercise, helps to burn calories, researchers have confirmed.

In 2012, Harvard Medical School uncovered irisin, having singled it out from muscle cells, and discovered that it helps convert white fat into brown fat. Brown fat is involved in the creation of body heat and this process helps to burn calories.

Now a team from the University of Florida have confirmed irisin’s potential, finding the mechanism through which the hormone works. They found that irisin increases the activity of genes and a protein, called UCP1, that is involved in changing white fat cells into brown fat cells.

They also discovered that irisin has a function in burning calories through increasing the energy used by brown fat cells.

Professor Li-Jun Yang, a professor of hematopathology in the Department of Pathology, Immunology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Florida College of Medicine, led the research.

She said: "We used human fat tissue cultures to prove that irisin has a positive effect by turning white fat into brown fat and that it increases the body's fat-burning ability.

"Irisin can do a lot of things. This is another piece of evidence about the mechanisms that prevent fat build-up and promote the development of strong bones when you exercise."

But Dr Yang added: "Instead of waiting for a miracle drug, you can help yourself by changing your lifestyle. Exercise produces more irisin, which has many beneficial effects including fat reduction, stronger bones, and better cardiovascular health."

The study is published in the American Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism.
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