London: A study has suggested that brown fat, which is the `good` fat that burns calories, can be used for treating obesity and diabetes.
The study was led by Aaron Cypess, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, and he said it may be possible to make even more of this tissue.
"We are now even more optimistic that brown fat could be used for treating obesity and diabetes," Cypess said.
Although most adult fat is calorie-storing white fat, most adults have some brown fat in an area extending from the front of the neck to the chest, he reported at The Endocrine Society`s meeting in 2009.
Now they have learned that brown fat cells lie in deeper fat, not superficial fat, and that the number of regions of brown fat varies by person.
They discovered this by measuring the expression of a protein found exclusively in brown fat, called uncoupling protein-1. However, even in those regions where many brown fat cells are present, they are mixed with white fat cells.
"It`s a marbling at the cellular level. We wondered: Wouldn`t it be nice if you could grow more brown fat? The answer is yes," Cypess said.In their new study, the researchers succeeded in growing mature human brown fat cells from preadipocytes, or pre-fat cells, that they obtained from a fresh sample of brown fat taken from the neck of a patient having routine surgery.
The process took about two weeks in a laboratory dish but likely occurs more quickly in the body, Cypess said.
"Some of these preadipocytes may have the choice to become either white or brown fat," he said.
In another experiment, Cypess and his colleagues measured how many calories brown fat burns. To do so, they measured the fat cells` oxygen consumption rate in both cultures and surgical tissue samples from volunteers.
"We demonstrated that brown fat burns up a substantial number of calories. We have an organ in our body whose job it is to generate heat and burn calories," Cypess said.