Molecular "switch" boosts fat burning

Good news for those who want to lose weight: An international team of scientists has discovered a "switch" in the fat cells of mice and humans that helps to burn excess pounds. When a certain protein component called the Gq protein is blocked, white fat cells turn into energy-consuming, heat-producing brown fat cells.

Compared to white fat cells, brown fat cells have an advantage in that they consume energy by releasing fat calories in the form of heat. The goal of the researchers was to find out how harmful white fat cells can be converted into desirable brown fat cells. As a result, new drugs can be developed to combat obesity, which leads to many diseases such as diabetes or cardiovascular diseases. The studies are still at an early stage.

Scientist examines sample through a microscope

First experiments with mice

The researchers discovered a "switch" in the fat cells of mice that can force fat burning. Brown fat cells contain many receptors to which the Gq protein can bind, with the Gq proteins playing an important role in transferring information.

In an early experiment, the Gq protein was activated in the mouse fat cells. Scientists saw the amount and quality of the brown cells deteriorate. Yet when the Gq protein was blocked with an inhibitor, more brown fat cells were able to mature. The same applies to the "beige" fat cells, which can be converted from white to brown fat cells and also participate in burning excess energy stores. Once the Gq protein is blocked, more brown fat cells are formed.


Experiments on human fat cells

The same experiments were made on human fat cells grown in the laboratory. Here scientists saw a similar result: Brown fat cells developed much better as soon as Gq proteins were blocked. This discovery can result in the development of active substances that stimulate fat burning in overweight patients. However, it will be some time before viable active ingredients are available on the market (Source: Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms University, Bonn)

Your Barbara Hendel


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