Obesity is a medical condition whereby the accumulation of excess body fat has reached an extent to which it may have adverse effect on health or even lead to death. Obesity is also known to increase the risk of diseases such as Diabetes. Both diabetes and Obesity affect an alarming percentage of people in the world and in modern times of fast food and reduced physical activity the numbers keep on rising. Scientists are constantly on the hunt for improved treatments for these types of disorders. Upon conducting my research I was presently surprised when I stumbled upon several published papers stating the positive effects of brown adipose tissue on glucose tolerance, metabolism and body weight.
New treatments for Diabetes are on the horizon because scientists have shown that brown adipose tissue (BAT) positively affects metabolism, glucose tolerance and body weight. Brown adipose tissue burns fat to produce heat unlike white adipose tissue which stores fat. Brown adipose tissue has a tissue rich in mitochondria which use glucose and fatty acids as fuel. Obesity is associated with increase in the mass of adipose tissue. Brown adipose tissue may have an integral role in maintaining a metabolically healthier, slimmer phenotype.
Researchers are studying whether BAT is involved in glucose metabolism and its effect on metabolism and weight loss. A study involves transferring BAT from male mice into the visceral cavities of mice that had been fed a diet high in fat. After a period of time the BAT transplant mice were fed a normal diet and exhibited an improvement in glucose tolerance, increased insulin sensitivity , a decrease in fat mass and weight loss. Three controls groups including mice with white adipose tissue transplant and a glass bead implant and surgery sans transplantation showed no improvement in metabolism. The study suggests that BAT is an endocrine organ which can improve whole body and tissue glucose homeostasis. The BAT transplantation even alleviated the dangerous effects of a high fat diet. Even though the transplanted BAT actively took up glucose, this effect may be comparatively small compared with larger effects observed in other tissues.
A note worthy finding of the study was the ability of the BAT transplants to regularize glucose levels in the mice that consumed high fat diets. The beneficial effects observed seemed to be due to the circulation of IL-6 which was increased in these mice. Increase in IL-6 is associated with glucose metabolism and this indicates that BAT can be targeted for treatment of obesity linked diseases including diabetes, metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance.