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Researchers Turn White Fat to Energy-Burning Brown Fat in Mice

Researchers Turn White Fat to Energy-Burning Brown Fat in Mice

12/21/10

TUESDAY, Dec. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Certain cells in white fat can be changed into energy-burning brown fat, according to an animal study that might one day lead to new treatments for obesity, researchers report.

In tests on mice, a team at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston found that exposure to a protein called BMP-7 caused progenitor cells in subcutaneous (just beneath the skin) white fat tissue and skeletal muscle to turn into brown fat cells.

Previous research by the same team found that BMP-7 plays a key role in brown fat development.

In this new study, the conversion of the progenitor cells in the subcutaneous white fat tissue was increased when they were exposed to both BMP-7 and the diabetes drug rosiglitazone.

"This finding opens up a whole new avenue for researchers interested in designing molecules that induce endogenous progenitor cells to differentiate into mature brown fat cells," senior author Yu-Hua Tseng, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said in a news release from the Joslin Diabetes Center.

"It's particularly exciting because we found that some of these cells are located in subcutaneous white fat, which could be a very accessible source for them," Tseng added.

The study is published in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians explains what it takes to lose weight.

Copyright © 2010 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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