Posted on Jun 13, 2023, 5 p.m.
According to an article recently published in Nature Communications conducted by researchers from Cornell University, beige fat might be the key to age-related metabolism changes. The researchers believe that the effects of a slowing metabolism might be reversed by stimulating the production of beige fat cells.
There are two primary types of fat in humans, white adipose tissue (WAT) and brown adipose tissue (BAT). WAT stores excess calories as energy while BAT burns calories to generate heat and maintain body temperature. This study focuses on another type of fat called beige fat which is a subtype of WAT, sharing cellular precursors and having thermogenic properties that are similar to BAT. The current theory is that beige fat helps to regulate blood sugar levels and reduce the presence of fatty acids which contribute to arterial hardening, heart disease, and other conditions.
Formation of beige fat occurs when adipose progenitor stem cells within white fat are stimulated by prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, but with age, the response to this stimulus declines leading to an imbalance of white fat, as demonstrated in previous research. The researchers report being able to suppress this pathway in aging mice in this study and successfully prompt the production of beige fat cells in areas where white fat would have typically formed.
“There are seasonal changes in beige fat in young humans, but an older person would have to stand outside in the snow in their underwear to get those same effects,” says Dan Berry, who is an assistant professor in the Division of Nutritional Sciences.
“This is the ultimate goal,” said Abigail Benvie, lead author of the new study and a doctoral student researcher in Berry’s lab. “Without having to subject people to cold exposure for prolonged periods of time, are there metabolic pathways we can stimulate that could produce the same effect?”
The researchers suggest that their anti-aging findings open new paths toward potential interventions for age-related weight gain and associated health conditions while providing insight into the mechanisms behind the beige fat formation. The team plans to continue investigating this pathway and exploring other possible regulators, and they also received a $2.2 million five-year grant from the NIH to help further our understanding of how these regulator levels change and their activity during the aging process.
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement.
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