Beige fat is a type of fat tissue which uses energy to generate heat. Its ability to create heat and consume calories has been experimented with to accelerate weight loss, but a new method utilizing the tissue has been discovered. A collection of studies that were attempting to uncover how to activate these calorie devouring cells reached the same conclusion. They cite that beige fat stimulation relies upon the signaling of specific interleukins (protein cells) and the activation of adipose tissue macrophages (immune system defense cells).
Peter Tontonoz, who is an expert on lipid signalling at the University of California, Los Angeles, suggests that there’s an immune pathway that regulates thermogenesis. Beige fat is an energy-burning form of tissue that is embedded in white fat (the energy storing kind: what most people are targeting during weight loss). The objective in this fat burning process is to turn white fat into beige fat, which would essentially lead it to burning itself. Scientists believe if this can be achieved, it would be a very successful therapy for obese individuals.
The activation of beige fat has been experimented with cold therapies. Exposure to cold can stimulate the creation of beige fat cells in humans, possibly enabling accelerated weight loss. Common methods to do this have been practiced including: ice baths, extended cold showers, and lowering the temperature in an office or home. This method of stimulating beige fat cells is difficult and uncomfortable to many of those who have attempted it.
The new method for accelerated weight loss was discovered by Harvard University’s Bruce Spiegelman. The turning on a particular muscle coactivator, PGC1a, led to the beigeing of fat in mice. Spiegelman wanted to find out what factors were responsible for the fat-beigeing phenomenon and found a meteroin-like protein hormone. Spiegelman, and others labs that are experimenting with this process arrived at the same hormone.
According to University of Pennsylvania Medical School’s Patrick Seale, the role of immune cells in weight loss has not been experimented with in the past, but the results from his peer’s tests suggest that immune cells have a big involvement with fat storage. At Harvard Medical School, Spiegelman injected IL-4 (a chemical designed to stimulate the immune cells to beige fat) to obese mice for two weeks. When compared to control mice, the treated mice weighed less and had less fat overall. An associate to Spiegelman, Ajay Chawla, stated that the results yield strong evidence that this process can be utilized in weight loss therapy.
The newly discovered accelerated weight loss method exhibited successful results when treated on obese mice. At the end of experimentation, the mice lost 13 percent of their total fat mass. There are an array of compounds being experimented with and Spiegelman and his colleagues are looking for the most effective, and safest, method for humans. He says that even the modest reductions in fat is extremely successful considering how much fat could be lost over a long period of time. The treatment has not been experimented on humans.
By Andres Loubriel