They discover a neuronal mechanism that breaks down fat

Galarraga Aiestaran, Ana

Elhuyar Zientzia

Fat cells (in green) of axons (in red) Ed. Roksana Pirzgalska/IGC

Research led by researchers from the Gilbenkian Institute (Portugal) and Rockefeller University (USA) shows that neuronal stimulation destroys fat.

Until now, it was known that the hormone leptin controls the accumulation of fat in the body. It regulates appetite and metabolism in the brain. However, the researchers did not know how the signal was going from the brain to fat to destroy fat. And that is what they have clarified in the research carried out. In fact, they have shown that fat cells are inert and that direct stimulation of neurons is sufficient to destroy fat. The results have been published in the journal Cell.

The researchers have used different combined techniques and have seen for the first time that white fatty tissue is inert. Specifically, fat cells are surrounded by neurons of the sympathetic nervous system with drawing technology.

In addition, optogenetics has been used to activate these neurons with blue light and analyze their function in genetically modified mouse. Thus they have shown that with the activation of neurons fat is destroyed. It is explained that the activation of local neurons causes the secretion of noreprinefrina neurotransmitter, which favors a mechanism of hydrolysis of fat.

According to the researchers, this pathway can lead to treatments to combat obesity, especially in the case of people with resistance to leptin.

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