How brown fat cells could help combat type 2 diabetes, obesity

 A newly identified signalling pathway that stimulates glucose uptake in brown fat cells might be useful for treating type 2 diabetes and obesity, says a new study.

Washington: A newly identified signalling pathway that stimulates glucose uptake in brown fat cells might be useful for treating type 2 diabetes and obesity, says a new study.

The pathway, which involves a protein kinase called mTOR, stimulates the transport of a glucose-importing protein called GLUT1 to the surface of brown fat cells.

Researchers in Sweden showed that the mTORC2 signalling pathway is the key regulator of glucose uptake in brown fat tissue in mice.

"One of the most interesting characteristics of this newly discovered signal pathway is that it differs from the signal pathway triggered by insulin," said Tore Bengtsson from the department of Molecular Biosciences at the Stockholm University in Sweden.

"The signalling pathway in brown fat can most likely be activated even in patients with type 2 diabetes, where insulin signalling is impaired," added Bengtsson.

When our body encounters cold temperatures, the nervous system activates adrenoceptors on the surface of brown fat cells to stimulate glucose uptake from the bloodstream.

Brown fat cells then use this glucose as a fuel source to generate body heat.

In addition to being an effective tool for controlling blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes patients, stimulating the mTORC2 pathway to take advantage of the energy-burning power of brown fat might be effective as a weight loss therapy, suggested the findings.

The study appeared in The Journal of Cell Biology.

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