A tissue that burns oodles of flab

Brown fat, a wondrous tissue, can burn oodles of flab and help us stay slim and trim. Brown fat is present in most, if not all, adults mainly just behind the collarbone.

Too much of ‘white fat’ causes obesity. A gram of the substance stores six kilocalories of energy, whereas the same quantity of brown fat burns six kilocalories daily. Adults with brown fat are slimmer.

A team from Garvan Institute of Medical Research has shown that brown fat can be grown in culture from stem cells biopsied from adults, the journal Endocrinology reports.

We are all born with supplies of brown fat around our necks. It is nature’s way of helping to keep us warm as infants, according to a Garvan statement.

Endocrinologists Paul Lee and Ken Ho, in collaboration with Michael Swarbrick and Jing Ting Zhao at Garvan, successfully grew brown fat from the biopsied tissue of patients.

"Although this is early work, it is a proof of concept study showing that the growth of brown fat cells is possible, using precursor cells taken from adult humans, under appropriate stimulation," said Paul Lee.

"Regardless of whether or not someone has lots of or little brown fat, the precursor cells are universally present. Under the appropriate growth factor and hormonal stimulation, the cells all grow and differentiate into mature brown fat cells," said Lee.

Using the PET-CT scans of close to 3,000 people, Lee recently showed a striking negative correlation between brown fat and weight. IANS