04 May People With More Brown Fat May Burn Fuel More Efficiently
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Florian Keifer, M.D., Ph.D
Associate Professor of Medicine
Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism
Department of Medicine III
Medical University of Vienna
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Brown fat, in contrast to white fat, burns significant amounts of chemical energy through heat production. In numerous animal models the activation of brown adipose tissue (BAT) increases energy expenditure and counteracts weight gain. Therefore BAT has been established as a promising target in the fight against obesity and related metabolic disorders. In humans, BAT can be activated by moderate cold exposure, however the function and relevance of BAT are incompletely understood. Using PET scans we identified two groups of individuals those with and without active BAT and studied their differences in energy expenditure and blood fatty acid composition.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: We found that people with active brown fat compared to those without have a very distinct fuel metabolism. They burn about 15% more energy in the cold and have a more favorable fatty acid composition in the blood. Individuals with active brown adipose tissue had decreased levels of inflammatory fatty acids usually associated with diabetes and cardiovascular disease whereas the concentrations of some anti-inflammatory fatty acids were increased.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Brown fat in humans may have a significant impact on energy metabolism and blood lipid profiles. However the distribution of brown fat may be very heterogeneous amongst the general population.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: More large-scale clinical studies need to be done to better understand the relevance of brown fat for the protection against metabolic diseases including obesity and diabetes. Some studies are already looking into potential pharmacological interventions that may activate and/or recruit brown adipose tissue with the goal to increase energy expenditure.
Florian W Kiefer, Christopher Gerner, Alexandra Kautzky-Willer, Dietmar Pils, Andrea Bileck, Alexander R Haug, Carsten T Herz, Laura Niederstaetter, Oana C Kulterer. The presence of active brown adipose tissue determines cold-induced energy expenditure and oxylipin profiles in humans. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2020; DOI: 10.1210/clinem/dgaa183
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