Newly discovered brown fat cells hold possibilities for treating diabetes, obesity

November 21, 2013

Obesity and diabetes have become a global epidemic leading to severe cardiovascular disease. Researchers at the University of Utah believe their recent identification of brown fat stem cells in adult humans may lead to new treatments for heart and endocrine disorders, according to a new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Stem Cells.

The study was led by Amit N. Patel, M.D. M.S., director of Clinical Regenerative Medicine and Tissue Engineering, and associate professor in the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University of Utah School of Medicine.

Prior to Patel's study, it was thought that brown fat stem cells did not exist in adults. Children have large amounts of brown fat that is highly metabolically active, which allows them to eat large amounts of food and not gain weight. Patel notes, adults generally have an abundance of white fat in their bodies, which leads to weight gain and but this is not seen in brown fat. As people age the amount of white fat increases and brown fat decreases which contributes to diabetes and .

"If you have more brown fat, you weigh less, you're metabolically efficient, and you have fewer instances of diabetes and high cholesterol. The unique identification of human brown fat stem cells in the chest of patients aged from 28 to 84 years is profound. We were able to isolate the human stem cells, culture and grow them, and implant them into a pre-human model which has demonstrated positive effects on glucose levels," said Patel.

The new discovery of finding brown fat stem cells may help in identifying potential drugs that may increase the body's own ability to make brown fat or find novel ways to directly implant the into patients.

Explore further: Calorie-burning brown fat is a potential obesity treatment, researchers say

More information:

Related Stories

Scientists develop a new way to identify good fat

September 18, 2013

When it comes to fat, you want the brown type and not so much of the white variety because brown fat burns energy to keep you warm and metabolically active, while white fat stores excess energy around your waist, causing ...

Recommended for you

Functional human liver cells grown in the lab

November 26, 2015

In new research appearing in the prestigious journal Nature Biotechnology, an international research team led by The Hebrew University of Jerusalem describes a new technique for growing human hepatocytes in the laboratory. ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.