Immunology

BeATing back obesity

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Science  21 Jun 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6446, pp. 1147
DOI: 10.1126/science.364.6446.1147-a

Lipids in breast milk delay the transition from beige to white adipose tissue and protect against obesity.

PHOTO: LIFEBRARY/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

Children who are breastfed appear to be at a lower risk for obesity later in life. One explanation is that breast milk may somehow prevent the premature transition from beige adipose tissue (BeAT) to white adipose tissue during childhood and adolescence. Yu et al. report that alkylglycerol ether lipids found in breast milk maintain the BeAT of infant mice. Adipose tissue macrophages metabolize these lipids into platelet-activating factor, which then induces macrophage release of interleukin-6, signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) signaling in adipocytes, and the development of BeAT. Although usually inactivated in adulthood, this pathway resurrects in obese adipose tissue, indicating a degree of metabolic flexibility that could be exploited for therapeutic applications.

J. Clin. Invest. 129, 2485 (2019).

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