Paper of the Month - February 2015

Wu MV, Bikopoulos G, Hung S, Ceddia RB. Thermogenic capacity is antagonistically regulated in classical brown and white subcutaneous fat depots by high fat diet and endurance training in rats: impact on whole-body energy expenditure. J Biol Chem. 2014 Dec 5;289(49):34129-40.

Two types of adipose tissue are found in humans: white and brown. The former is specialized to store excess energy when we eat too much and the latter has great capacity to use fat and sugar to produce heat (thermogenesis) under conditions of cold exposure. Recent studies have reported that chronic endurance exercise makes the subcutaneous white adipose tissue function more like brown fat (“browning” of the white adipose tissue). This has sparked great interest in researchers to understand the mechanisms by which exercise exerts such effects. This could lead to the discovery of novel therapeutic approaches to treat obesity and its related metabolic disorders. In this study we demonstrated that chronic endurance exercise conferred brown-like features to the subcutaneous white fat and increased whole-body resting energy expenditure. Importantly, the browning effect of endurance training was accompanied by significant reductions in fat mass in animals fed either low- or a high-calorie diets. Our novel findings indicate that fat cells can be remodeled to become "fat-burning machines" instead of fat-storing compartments. These findings help us to understand how exercise helps with weight loss and opens up the possibility of developing new approaches to treat obesity that are potentially more effective than the ones currently available.

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