Calorie Burning Brown Fat is Beige in Adult Humans

Apple and tape measure - BSN

(Best Syndication News) - Researchers from Harvard Medical School have identified a third type of fat cell which is beige and has characteristics of brown fat. The brown fat burns calories to create body heat, while white fat stores the energy. The researchers reported their findings in the July 12, 2012 issue of the journal Cell.

Bruce Spiegelman of the Harvard Medical School explained that the new third type is found in most or all humans.

The beige fat discovery gives researchers a new avenue to investigate different ways to give these cells a boost to burn off more energy. This could lead to new ways for a person to shed excess body fat.

Spiegelman and fellow researchers had demonstrated in prior studies that brown fat in adults wasn’t the same as the brown fat found in babies. The brown fat in babies come from muscle, while the brown fat cells in adults come from white fat that is turning into beige fat.

In the current study, the researchers cloned beige fat cells from mice. They found that the beige fat was something in between white fat and brown fat. The beige fat had characteristics to burn energy that is found in the brown fat. However, the beige fat also had low levels of uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) which is similar to white fat.

Another feature of the beige fat is its ability to respond to the irisin hormone, which switches on the calorie-burning process. The irisin hormone comes from muscles when a person exercises.

Spiegelman suggests that irisin might be a treatment that could turn these fat cells into energy-burning units.

By: Marsha Quinn
Health Reporter

Ref: Wu et al.: "Beige Adipocytes are a Distinct Type of Thermogenic Fat Cell in Mouse and Human."

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