‘Healthy’ fat discovered at the touch of a button

Beta 2 receptor activates brown fat


Not all fat in our body is bad. For example, brown adipose tissue burns sugar and fat, which traps our body heat, into heat. The cold stimulates brown fat. However, exactly how this works is not known. Until now, because scientists have discovered the button for ‘healthy’ fat.

Researchers at the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) have now shown that stimulation of the beta-2 receptor activates brown fat. This research, funded by the Heart Foundation, could be a starting point for the treatment of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

“When we are cold, our brain sends a signal via nerves to brown adipose tissue,” says Patrick Rensen, professor of Endocrinology. “This signal activates brown fat cells, which in turn burn sugar and fat molecules from the blood. This releases not only the exhaled CO2, but also the heat that warms our body.” Rensen and his colleagues have now discovered which “switch” on brown fat cells is activated by a signal from the brain.

Activating brown oil as a cure?

The researchers write about this beta-2 receptor in Cell Reports Medicine. “With this knowledge we can develop new stimulants that activate brown fat. In theory, this approach could counteract type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, because activating brown fat when cold not only reduces body fat, but also the amount of glucose and cholesterol in the blood, says Rensen.

research on humans

Rensen and colleagues previously showed that stimulation of the beta-3 receptor activates brown fat in mice, so that the mice not only lose body fat, but also develop less arteriosclerosis. Human brown fat cells were found to have almost no beta-3 receptors. In the lab, stimulation of the beta-2 receptor was found to activate brown fat cells. Researchers have now actually proven this in humans.

“We administered salbutamol to 10 volunteers. This is a special beta 2 receptor simulator. It turned out that as long as the receptor was not blocked, radiolabeled sugar significantly increased brown fat absorption. We have demonstrated this with PET-CT scans in collaboration with the radiology department,” says Rensen.

avoid side effects

As a result, Rensen hopes to treat people with a high risk of type 2 diabetes and/or cardiovascular disease with beta-2 receptor stimulators. But until then, researchers have a lot of work to do. Rensen: “The first step will be to find a substance that only activates this receptor in brown fat cells.” The beta-2 receptor is also present in other tissues in our body. “So first we need to find a way to target such stimulants specifically to brown fat. This will allow us to prevent side effects from these stimulants anywhere in the body.”

Our body fat isn’t just a pile of mud; It is an active organ. Body fat produces hormones, regulates hunger and satiety, provides energy, but can also disrupt metabolism. Liesbeth van Rossum is an internist and endocrinologist and Mariette Boon is an internist and brown fat researcher. You know all about body fat and how to impress it. Listen to the podcast where they tell it all below.

  • Author: editors
  • Source: Gezondheids Net