The injection of a tiny capsule containing heat-generating cells into the abdomens of mice led those animals to burn abdominal fat and initially lose about 20 percent of belly fat after 80 days of treatment.
Researchers conducting the study were surprised to see that the injected cells even acted like “missionaries,” converting existing belly fat cells into so-called thermogenic cells, which use fat to generate heat.
Over time, the mice gained back some weight. But they resisted any dramatic weight gain on a high-fat diet and burned away more than a fifth of the cells that make up their visceral fat, which surrounds the organs and is linked to higher risk for Type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
The scientists took advantage of the heat-generating properties of a so-called good fat in the body, brown fat, to cut back on the white fat cells that compose the visceral fat that tends to accumulate in the belly.
The scientists combined those brown fat thermogenic cells with genetically modified cells missing an enzyme that leads to visceral fat growth. The engineered cells were placed inside a gel-like capsule that allowed for release of its contents without triggering an immune response.
“With a very small number of cells, the effect of the injection of this capsule was more pronounced at the beginning, when the mice dramatically lost about 10 percent of their weight. They gained some weight back after that. But then we started to look at how much visceral fat was present, and we saw about a 20 percent reduction in those lipids. Importantly, other nontreated peripheral or subcutaneous fat, which has some beneficial health effects, remained the same. That’s what we want,” saidOuliana Ziouzenkova, assistant professor of human nutrition at Ohio State University and lead author of the study.
“We observed the mice for 80 days after injection and the capsule didn’t break or cause any scarring or inflammation. This suggests it’s a clean, safe potential therapy for obesity,” added Ziouzenkova, also an investigator in Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Center for Clinical and Translational Science. Studies in larger animals would be needed before trials in humans could begin, she said.
via Ohio State University
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