On-off switch to burn stored fat discovered

Washington: Researchers have reported that a molecular pathway called mTORC1 controls the conversion of unhealthy white fat into beige fat, an appealing target for increasing energy expenditure and reducing obesity.

The team, led by researchers from the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, also found that a protein, Grb10, serves as the on-off switch for mTORC1 signaling and the "beigeing" of fat.

Senior author Feng Liu, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology at the UT Health Science Center and director of the Metabolic Syndrome Research Center at Xiangya Second Hospital , Central South University, in Changsha, China, said they know that if we want to keep our body lean, we have to get rid of extra nutrients in the body, which means burning more energy.

Dr Liu said understanding how beigeing is controlled is so very important because if we can improve energy expenditure, we can reduce obesity.

Co-author Lily Dong, Ph.D., professor of cellular and structural biology at the UT Health Science Center, said that normally when one eats something, they store it in white fat.

He said that for the extra food one eats, it is better to release it, not store it. So finding a way to turn the white fat into beige and burn the energy that normally we store would have high therapeutic potential for the treatment of obesity and its related diseases. Dr. Liu has identified the pathway to do this.

The study has been published in the journal Cell Metabolism.

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