Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Fat Fight
13 January 2013

Fat Fight

At today's opening of the 2013 Grand Sumo championships, fat gain is the name of the game – the bigger the better. The human body contains two types of fat – white and brown. Brown fat generates heat, while white fat stores energy. In excess, white fat can lead to heart disease and diabetes. Unfortunately when it comes to the battle between white fat and brown fat, white wins out. By adulthood we have lost most of the brown fat we are born with and it’s white fat that piles on. Scientists have now found a way to encourage white fat cells to convert to brown. The enzyme, Aldh1a, is involved in fat cell (pictured) development and is particularly abundant in white fat cells. Suppressing its activity in white fat cells made them behave more like brown fat cells, and removing it in mice prevented them from gaining so much weight.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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