Receptors activated in brown fat cells could lead to type 2 diabetes and obesity treatments

Jack Woodfield
Tue, 18 Apr 2017
Receptors activated in brown fat cells could lead to type 2 diabetes and obesity treatments
Research has uncovered a new way to increase the production of 'good fats' in the body which could help treat obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Brown fat has long been studied as a treatment for obesity and type 2 diabetes because it burns energy faster than white fat, which hoards it, leading to weight gain.

In this new study, conducted in Switzerland, researchers employed two receptors called TRPM8 and TRPP3 on brown adipose tissue, known as good fat.

The findings suggested this led to good fat increasing faster than white adipose tissue, known as white fat, and might even convert white fat to brown fat.

"Our study establishes the potential of TRPM8 and TRPP3 as druggable targets involved in human brown adipogenesis, to develop substances that can modulate energy consumption in individuals and blood sugar control," said Dr Michael Ragunath, Department of Life Sciences and Facility Management, Center for Cell Biology and Tissue Engineering at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences.

"In the face of a growing number of diabetic and obese people, our work hopefully will contribute to the development of non-adrenergic stimulators of brown fat and the appreciation of functional food to influence brown fat physiology."

As part of the trial, researchers used human donor cells taken from bone marrow and belly fat. These were induced to become either brown or white fats.

When the researchers found high levels of TRPM8 and TRPP3 were present in the brown fat cells, the role of the receptors was tested to see if they could brown white fat cells.

The study findings have been published in the FASEB Journal. Thoru Pederson, the editor-in-chief of the publication, said: "Just when one begins to think every door in the brown fat field has been opened, here comes the olfactory receptors axis."

If further studies find the same links between food recognition, Pederson said a "major advance will have been made".
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