Washington: For the first time, scientists have managed to transform inert white fat into brown fat that burns off more energy -- a breakthrough they say could soon lead to better treatments for people suffering from obesity.
In the high-fat group, the control group rats became obese, while those rats in which NPY expression was silenced gained less weight.The results "made sense", given that NPY has been shown to stimulate eating, said Bi. The less NPY, the less the rats would eat, his team hypothesised. But, the team was surprised when they checked the fat content of rats after death.In the groin area of the NPY rats, they found not the expected white fat, but the telltale signs of brown fat in its place.They confirmed this change by looking at levels of mitochondrial uncoupling protein-1, or UCP-1, through which brown fat burns to produce heat.They used this protein as a marker to determine that the fat that should have been white was instead brown.Bi said the transformation from white to brown resulting from NPY suppression may be due to activation of brown fat stem cells contained in white fat tissue.While brown fat seems to vanish in humans as they emerge from infancy, the brown fat stem cells may never disappear and may just become inactive as people age.It may be possible to transplant or inject brown fat stem cells under the skin to burn white fat and stimulate weight loss, said Bi. "Only future research will tell us if that is possible." PTI
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