Inosine to fight overweight and obesity
Now, for the first time, a molecule has been identified that stimulates fat burning in brown fat cells. This allows you to stay relatively lean despite a high-fat diet. Boosted fat burning could help people lose weight and fight overweight and obesity.
In a new study by researchers from the University of Bonn and University Hospital Bonn, a mechanism has been investigated in mice that can be used to increase fat burning in brown fat cells.
The results were published in the English-language journal “Nature”.
What do fat cells do?
Fat cells normally have the job of storing energy. The energy from brown fat cells can be used to produce heat when it is cold. In humans, activating brown fat also protects against cardiovascular disease, researchers say.
Since it is actually always sufficiently warm these days, even in winter, for example thanks to heating and warm clothing, the body’s own incinerators are hardly necessary anymore. In addition, people are consuming more and more energy and moving much less than in the past, experts report.
All of these factors damage brown fat cells, causing them to stop functioning over time and eventually die. Researchers around the world are therefore looking for active ingredients that stimulate brown fat and thus increase fat burning, reports study author Prof. Dr. Alexandre Piper.
“We know that dying cells often release a mixture of messenger substances which influence the behavior of their neighbors”, adds Dr. Birte Niemann in a press release.
The new study aimed to find out if the effect also occurs with brown fat. To do this, the team looked at brown fat cells from mice that had been intentionally stressed so much that they began to die.
Dying fat cells secreted inosine
Cells have been found to release a special molecule called inosine in large amounts. Additionally, it was shown how intact brown fat cells respond to this molecular cry for help.
Inosine improves burning function
Healthy cells were activated by inosine or their proximity to dying cells. In other words, the signaling substance increased the burning function of the cells. The team further reports that even white fat cells turned into brown fat cells during the process.
Thin despite a high-energy diet
The use of inosine allowed the mice to remain leaner despite a high-energy diet than was the case in mice that were not injected with inosine, the researchers said.
In addition, inosine injection also protected the animals from diabetes. The so-called inosine transporter seems to play an important role here, reports the research team.
What is the inosine transporter?
The inosine transporter is a protein that transports inosine into the cell, thereby reducing the concentration of the messenger outside the cell. In such a case, the signaling molecule can probably no longer develop its combustion-promoting effect, the researchers suspect.
The drug inhibits inosine transporters
“There is a drug that was actually developed for bleeding disorders, but it also inhibits the inosine transporter. We gave it to mice, which then consumed more energy,” explains Professor Dr. Cornemuseur.
Leaner due to less active inosine transporters
Humans also have an inosine transporter that is less active in two to four percent of all people due to genetic modification.
Researchers from the University of Leipzig who participated in the study were able to show during the genetic examination of 900 people that people with a less active carrier were on average significantly thinner.
An effective treatment for obesity on the horizon
The results lead to the hypothesis that inosine also regulates the burning of brown fat cells in humans. Drugs that affect the activity of the transporter could therefore allow an effective treatment of obesity.
According to the team, the bleeding disorder drug could be a starting point. “However, further studies in humans are needed to clarify the pharmacological potential of this mechanism,” adds Prof. Dr. Cornemuseur.
According to the expert, the therapies available to date are not sufficiently effective, new approaches are needed to normalize the energy balance of obese patients. However, a pill alone is unlikely to provide the solution to the obesity pandemic plaguing the world. (as)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.
Saskia Haufs-Brusberg, Laura Puetz, Martin Feickert, Michelle Y. Jaeckstein, Anne Hoffmann, et al. : Apoptotic brown adipocytes improve energy expenditure via extracellular inosine; in: Nature (published July 5, 2022), NatureUniversity of Bonn: Molecule fuels fat burning (published July 5, 2022), University of Bonn
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot substitute a visit to the doctor.