Making fat muscle-like by increasing the energy-regulating cellular enzyme AMPK
Around 1 in 4 adults in the UK are estimated to be obese, which can be both difficult to treat and life threatening. Obesity is commonly caused by an imbalance between the fuel we eat and the fuel our bodies need. Researchers have shifted this balance in mice to make they use more energy and so gain less weight than typical mice when eating a high-fat diet. They did this by raising levels of a protein, called AMPK, which regulates energy use. Higher levels of AMPK triggered the mice’s fat cells to develop more blood vessels and to become similar, in some ways, to muscle cells. Overall, these cellular changes made the mice use much more energy. Here, mouse fat tissue shows droplets of protein and fat (red), and each cell’s protein structure (green) and nucleus (blue). Future medicines could target AMPK to treat obesity.
Written by Deborah Oakley
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