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Scientists discover switch that turns white fat brown
http://medicalxpress.com ^ | 09-06-2011 | Provided by Ohio State University Medical Center

Posted on 09/07/2011 9:37:43 AM PDT by Red Badger

Scientists have discovered a biological switch that gives energy-storing white fat the characteristics of energy-burning brown fat. The findings could lead to new strategies for treating obesity.

The animal study by researchers at The Ohio State University Medical Center shows that the change is due to the activation of a nerve and biochemical pathway that begins in the hypothalamus, an area of the brain involved in energy balance, and ends in white fat cells. This pathway, called the hypothalamic-adipocyte axis, also induces brown-fat-like cells within masses of white fat.

The white-to-brown fat transformation occurs when animals are placed in an enriched environment, one with a variety of social and physical challenges.

The findings are published in the September issue of the journal Cell Metabolism.

"One of the holy grails of obesity therapy is to understand how to switch white fat to brown fat, and this study describes a new way to do exactly that," says study leader and researcher Dr. Matthew J. During, professor of neuroscience, of neurological surgery and of molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics. "Our findings suggest that we can potentially induce this transformation by modifying our lifestyle or by pharmacologically activating this brain-fat pathway."

Lead and corresponding author Dr. Lei Cao, assistant professor of molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics, notes that obesity is caused by a chronic energy surplus that is stored as lipid in white fat. "Increasing the output of energy is always attractive for obesity treatment, which is why the discovery of brown fat in adult humans caused much excitement a few years ago," she says.

"However, up to now the only known approach to inducing brown fat has been through exposure to chronic cold. Our research reveals a novel way of doing this without cold exposure. We show that animals living in an enriched environment become lean and resistant to diet-induced obesity, even in the presence of unlimited food." In 2010, During, Cao and their colleagues showed in a paper published in the journal Cell that this enrichment effect by itself curbed cancer growth in animals.

The current study used a similarly designed environment, with 15-20 mice housed in large containers equipped with running wheels, tunnels, huts, wood toys, a maze, and nesting material, in addition to unlimited food and water. Control mice were housed in groups of five in smaller, standard laboratory containers without toys but with unlimited food and water.

Key findings include the following:

Enriched animals showed a significant reduction in abdominal white fat mass (49 percent less than controls). Exercise (running in a wheel) alone did not account for the changes in body composition and metabolism of enriched animals. Fed a high fat diet (45 percent fat), enriched animals gained 29 percent less weight than control mice and remained lean, with no change in food intake. Enriched animals also had a higher body temperature, suggesting that greater energy output, not suppressed appetite, led to the resistance to obesity.

In brief, During and Cao explained that the enriched environment stimulates production of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the hypothalamus. The normal function of BDNF includes helping control food intake and energy balance.

The increased BDNF triggers sympathetic nervous signals to white fat masses in the body. These signals activate genes specific for brown fat such as Prdm16 and Ucp1, and suppress white-fat genes such as Resn. Blocking BDNF, on the other hand, inhibits or reverses the browning effect.

Overall, the study shows that environmental enrichment has an anti-obesity effect that involves the transformation of white fat to brown fat. That happens through a central mechanism called the hypothalamic-sympathoneural-adipocyte axis – environmental enrichment stimulates the hypothalamus to produce the protein BDNF, increasing sympathetic nerve output to white fat, causing the "browning" of white fat and the burning of stored energy.

Next, During, Cao and their colleagues plan to identify which components of environmental enrichment – sensory, cognitive, motor or social stimulation – are essential for the browning effect.

Provided by Ohio State University Medical Center


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: brownfat; burningfat; energy; fat; health; medicine; sourcetitlenoturl; whitefat

1 posted on 09/07/2011 9:37:46 AM PDT by Red Badger
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To: Red Badger

Is that racist?


2 posted on 09/07/2011 9:39:21 AM PDT by ClearCase_guy (The USSR spent itself into bankruptcy and collapsed -- and aren't we on the same path now?)
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To: ClearCase_guy

Really... the joke potential here is endless.


3 posted on 09/07/2011 9:42:34 AM PDT by ArtDodger (Reread Animal Farm (with your kids))
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To: Red Badger

“Silly me. I’ve always just used the burner controls.”

4 posted on 09/07/2011 9:43:37 AM PDT by RichInOC (Palin 2012: The Perfect Storm.)
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To: ClearCase_guy

Sounds racist to me too.


5 posted on 09/07/2011 9:45:18 AM PDT by Paladin2
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To: Red Badger

What if they could turn white fat into brown sugar?


6 posted on 09/07/2011 9:46:21 AM PDT by Paladin2
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To: Red Badger

The control mice had no toys? Heartless food-police bastuhds.


7 posted on 09/07/2011 9:48:34 AM PDT by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: Red Badger

ok. so the brain is involved in burning fat too, not just the muscles. Makes sense.


8 posted on 09/07/2011 9:48:41 AM PDT by mamelukesabre (Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum (If you want peace prepare for war))
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To: Red Badger

Ooops... I came here thinking this was something to do with Ted Kennedy...


9 posted on 09/07/2011 9:50:49 AM PDT by C210N (0bama, Making the US safe for Global Marxism)
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To: Red Badger
The current study used a similarly designed environment,

with 15-20 mice housed in large containers equipped with running wheels, tunnels, huts, wood toys, a maze, and nesting material, in addition to unlimited food and water. ....

Control mice were housed in groups of five in smaller, standard laboratory containers without toys but with unlimited food and water

Ok so it room to run an play vs cooped up equal not fat vs fat....gee who would of thunk it

Add in how kid in school now can not run & play as much as they use to as it unsafe and might explain fat kits

10 posted on 09/07/2011 9:56:06 AM PDT by tophat9000 (American is Barack Oaken)
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To: tophat9000

You probably should have read a little bit further.


11 posted on 09/07/2011 10:00:41 AM PDT by Double Tap
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To: tophat9000
with 15-20 mice housed in large containers equipped with running wheels, tunnels, huts, wood toys, a maze, and nesting material, in addition to unlimited food and water. ....

I had all that once, but noooooooo, I had to get my own apartment..........

12 posted on 09/07/2011 10:07:20 AM PDT by Hot Tabasco (FREE YOUR BREASTS! FREE YOUR MIND!)
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To: Red Badger

I read the article to find our what they mean by “enriched enviornment.” They mean more toys. I’m in.


13 posted on 09/07/2011 10:30:39 AM PDT by Moonman62 (The US has become a government with a country, rather than a country with a government.)
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To: Moonman62

I still don’t see how “enriched environment” in this study translates to humans.

Hmmm.


14 posted on 09/07/2011 10:55:58 AM PDT by fightinJAG (Please stop posting "helpful hints" in parentheses the title box. Thank you.)
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To: fightinJAG

Office cubicles or repetitive work do not make for an enriched environment.

It’s funny, I did lose four pounds remodelling my bathroom and solving the problems that came up. And gained some back when I halted. It’s not like it was hard labor or aerobic either.

Back to the remodelling!


15 posted on 09/07/2011 11:21:23 AM PDT by heartwood
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To: Red Badger

placed “... in an enriched environment, one with a variety of social and physical challenges.”

You mean like putting them through an obstacle course w/a drill sergeant yelling at them?


16 posted on 09/07/2011 11:30:16 AM PDT by fruser1
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To: tophat9000

Bump


17 posted on 09/07/2011 12:51:34 PM PDT by dcwusmc (A FREE People have no sovereign save Almighty GOD!!! III OK We are EVERYWHERE)
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for later reference


18 posted on 09/07/2011 3:01:23 PM PDT by ELS (Vivat Benedictus XVI!)
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