Cell Metabolism

“Tricking” the body to burn calories

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Science  13 Jun 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6189, pp. 1239
DOI: 10.1126/science.344.6189.1239-d

Activating immune cells in fat can convert tissue from white fat, which stores energy, to something resembling brown fat, which burns it. Until now, the only way known to “brown” white fat was with exposure to cold. In one of two new studies in mice, Qiu et al. found that activating macrophages, a type of immune cell, helps brown white fat. Meanwhile, Rao et al. found that boosting levels of a hormone induced in muscle or after cold exposure helps activate the macrophages, brown fat, and improve glucose tolerance. The research opens up potential new strategies for tackling obesity and diabetes, because it could lead to ways of increasing energy expenditure.

Cell 10.1016/j.cell.2014.03.065 (2014).

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