Nav: Home

Inflammation halts fat-burning

January 03, 2017

Scientists at the University of Bonn have shown in mice that excess pounds can simply be melted away by converting unwanted white fat cells into energy-consuming brown slimming cells. Can this interesting approach also be used to combat obesity? In a recent study, the university researchers show why the inflammatory responses that often occur in overweight people block this kind of fat cell conversion. However, there may be a starting point to bypass this inhibition. The results have now been published in the scientific journal Cell Reports.

The vision is enticing: if bodyfat can simply be melted away with new active ingredients, then this could also prevent the widespread consequences of obesity - such as joint problems, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. The team around Alexander Pfeifer from the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Bonn has been researching how this could be possible for years. "In studies in mice, we have found various starting points to convert troublesome white fat cells into desirable brown fat cells," reports Prof. Pfeifer. The brown cells possess an extremely high number of mitochondria - these cell power stations "burn" white fat by converting it into thermal energy. The result: If the number of brown cells increases, the mice significantly lose weight.

The signal path of the messenger cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) plays an important role in this fat conversion. "The desirable brown fat cells rely on cGMP," explains Prof. Pfeifer. As the researchers have shown in various studies on mice, the widespread active ingredient sildenafil or a medication against pulmonary hypertension, for instance, can be used to reduce the number of white fat cells to the benefit of the brown fat cells and thus accelerate fat burning like a turbocharger.

The fat-burning turbocharger comes to a standstill in abdominal fat

Is this a possible option to effectively treat the significantly increasing obesity levels around the world and thus prevent serious complications? This is the question that the researchers are looking into in their current study. They gave mice a high-calorie diet and examined the changes in the animals' fat tissue. While hardly any inflammation occurred in the subcutaneous fat of obese mice and cGMP signaling was largely intact, things were very different for the deeper-lying abdominal fat: through the significant weight increase, inflammation had spread and the fat-burning turbocharger cGMP largely came to a standstill.

This uncovered a dual problem: abdominal fat is considered much more dangerous than subcutaneous fat because it triggers inflammation and can promote cardiovascular diseases, for instance. According to the latest results from researchers at the University of Bonn, this is also where cGMP, which is important for fat-burning, was largely blocked. The researchers thus asked themselves: Is it perhaps possible to remove this block?

Lead author Abhishek Sanyal from Prof. Pfeifer's team looked into this question. He investigated in what way inflammation inhibits the cGMP signal path. "Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha) plays an important role here," reports Sanyal. "The inflammation factor TNFalpha suppresses the cGMP signal path and thus prevents white fat cells from being turned into brown fat cells."

Using human subcutaneous and abdominal fat samples, the scientists, in cooperation with the University Hospital Leipzig and the Karolinska Institutet Stockholm (Sweden), find similar cahnges not only to rodents but also to the human organism. Although applications for obesity treatments in humans are still a long way off, the results indicate a direction for further research: "Obviously, one possible starting point in combatting obesity could be to inhibit the inflammatory response in abdominal fat while administering cGMP-stimulating active ingredients," says Prof. Pfeifer to summarize the findings.
-end-
Publication: Interplay between obesity-induced inflammation and cGMP signaling in white adipose tissue, Cell Reports, DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.12.028

Media contact:

Prof. Alexander Pfeifer
Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology
University of Bonn
Tel. +49 (0)228/28751300
E-mail: alexander.pfeifer@uni-bonn.de

University of Bonn

Related Obesity Articles:

Obesity is in the eye of the beholder
Doctors have a specific definition of what it means to be overweight or obese, but in the social world, gender, race and generation matter a lot for whether people are judged as 'thin enough' or 'too fat.'
Type 2 diabetes and obesity -- what do we really know?
Social and economic factors have led to a dramatic rise in type 2 diabetes and obesity around the world.
Three in 4 don't know obesity causes cancer
Three out of four (75 percent) people in the UK are unaware of the link between obesity and cancer, according to a new Cancer Research UK report published today.
Obesity on the rise in Indonesia
Obesity is on the rise in Indonesia, one of the largest studies of the double burden of malnutrition in children has revealed.
Obesity rates are not declining in US youth
A clear and significant increase in obesity continued from 1999 through 2014, according to an analysis of data on United States children and adolescents age 2 to 19 years.
How does the environment affect obesity?
Researchers will be examining how agricultural and food processing practices may affect brown fat activity directly or indirectly.
Obesity Day to highlight growing obesity epidemic in Europe
The growing obesity epidemic, which is predicted to affect more than half of all European citizens by 2030, will be the focus of European Obesity Day to be held on May 21.
Understanding obesity from the inside out
Researchers developed a new laboratory method that allowed them to identify GABA as a key player in the complex brain processes that control appetite and metabolism.
Epigenetic switch for obesity
Obesity can sometimes be shut down.
Immunological Aspects of Obesity
This FASEB Conference focuses on the interactions between obesity and immune cells, focusing in particular on how inflammation in various organs influences obesity and obesity-related complications.

Related Obesity Reading:

The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss
by Dr. Jason Fung (Author), Timothy Noakes (Foreword)

Obesity: Evaluation and Treatment Essentials, Second Edition
by G. Michael Steelman (Editor), Eric C. Westman (Editor)

Handbook of Obesity Treatment, Second Edition
by Thomas A. Wadden (Editor), George A. Bray (Editor)

THE OBESITY: Multiple Choice Questions Learn and Prepare
by Muhammad Asad MD Amjad Ali MD Jawaid Kalim MD Tawsufe Majid MD Saima Ashraf MD (Author), Shadab Kalim (Editor), Irtaza Asar (Editor), Hannan Chaudery (Editor), Tahreem Asad (Editor), Fatima Chawdhery (Editor), Anshaal Chawdhery (Editor), Zakariya D Ali (Editor), Noah A Ali (Editor), Asif Shakoor (Editor)

obesity code, lose weight for good fast diet for beginners and the keto diet for beginners 3 books collection set - unlocking the secrets of weight loss, weight loss with intermittent fasting
by Dr. Jason Fung (Author), CookNation (Author)

Fat Nation: A History of Obesity in America
by Jonathan Engel (Author)

SUMMARY: The Obesity Code by Jason Fung: unlocking the secrets of weight loss (Health and Fitness Book Summaries)
by Napoleon Hook (Author)

Handbook of Obesity, Two-Volume Set
by George A. Bray (Editor), Claude Bouchard (Editor)

Obesity: Balanced diets and treatment
by The Open University

Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease
by Avery

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Circular
We're told if the economy is growing, and if we keep producing, that's a good thing. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers explore circular systems that regenerate and re-use what we already have. Guests include economist Kate Raworth, environmental activist Tristram Stuart, landscape architect Kate Orff, entrepreneur David Katz, and graphic designer Jessi Arrington.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#504 The Art of Logic
How can mathematics help us have better arguments? This week we spend the hour with "The Art of Logic in an Illogical World" author, mathematician Eugenia Cheng, as she makes her case that the logic of mathematics can combine with emotional resonance to allow us to have better debates and arguments. Along the way we learn a lot about rigorous logic using arguments you're probably having every day, while also learning a lot about our own underlying beliefs and assumptions.