Brown fat — the type of fatty tissue that mammals use to generate heat — can help our bodies burn calories more quickly and efficiently, but it’s only present in adults in very small amounts. Doctors have been hoping for a while now that injecting brown fat cells into obese adults could help them lose weight by improving metabolic function and burning fat. In a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, researchers found that it could do just that, at least in mice.
In the study, led by Harvard University Medical Center’s Laurie Goodyear, researchers transplanted brown fat into two groups of mice, one fed a normal diet and one fed a high-fat diet.
The brown fat transplants significantly decreased body weight and improved insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism in both groups of mice. The brown fat also secreted hormones that help with metabolism throughout the body.
“This study establishes brown fat as an important regulator of metabolism and suggests that this tissue could be an important therapeutic target in the treatment of obesity-related diseases,” the researchers concluded.