Analysis of diabetes and obesity has made great progress of late. One of the most encouraging findings is related to the mechanism of action of BAT, brown adipose tissue comprised of brown adipose cells, which contain brown adipocytes. BAT has been shown to be a primary site for lipid breakdown in glucose uptake. The heat producing capacity of even discreet amounts of brown adipocytes is of interest as the target for diabetes and obesity therapies.
The past four years, the European Union backed DIABAT (Recruitment and activation of brown adipocytes as preventative and curative therapies) project team has worked to develop novel, energy consuming, BAT centered therapies for people at risk and patients with type 2 diabetes.
Advancing BAT understanding toward the development of new strategies and therapies, DIABAT investigated the differentiation (the process by which cells or tissues change from relatively generalized to specialized kinds, during development), function, dysfunction, and physiological regulation of brown adipocytes. Researchers incorporated experimental cellular systems, animal models, and studies on human volunteers using the BAT imaging methods for noninvasive functional analysis. In short, the experimental findings are now ready for clinical utilization.
As DIABAT drew to a final close, project coordinator Dr. Tobias Schafmeier from the German Cancer Research Center took some time out to speak about the impressive advances achieved. “In the past four years, the DIABAT consortium has made huge progress towards understanding the in vivo (occurring or made to occur within a living organism or natural setting) activation of BAT. Endogenous (growing or developing from within; originating within), nutritional, and artificial compounds and has revealed important underlying biological mechanisms. Furthermore, better imaging technology has gained opportunities for functional analysis of BAT in humans and improved BAT-associated diagnostics.” (Understanding the activation of BAT for improved diabetes treatment, 2015)
Discussion continues concerning the calculable contribution of BAT to overall energy consumption in humans. In spite of these reservations, the research carried out by DIABAT showed that even in situations where energy consumption was not significantly increased, the functioning of an organism possibly improves upon BAT activation. Dr. Schafmeier comments, “This observation can be explained by the fact that BAT may act as a sink for glucose and lipids thereby ameliorating elevated serum levels of these nutrients in obese conditions. Furthermore, BAT apparently has an endocrine function with an impact on remote tissues as it secretes bioactive substances (BATokines) into the circulation.” (Understanding the activation of BAT for improved diabetes treatment, 2015)
The results of DIABAT project will primarily be of interest researchers. However, Dr. Schafmeier states, “The findings are also relevant for physicians due to improved BAT imaging that has been developed during the project. Additionally, the project results probably will have a high impact for nutritionists and manufacturers of dietary supplements, exemplified by the identification of novel nutritional compounds that have the potential to induce white adipose tissue browning.” (Understanding the activation of BAT for improved diabetes treatment, 2015)
In the end, patients with obesity-associated metabolic dysfunction and type 2 diabetes will gain the most from DIABAT’s efforts. Dr. Schafmeier goes on to say, “Given the improvements in BAT imaging that have been made by the consortium, subjects could now be more efficiently stratified according to their amount of BAT, and targeted therapies could be pursued at least in BAT-positive individuals. Food supplements that have been characterized in the project have the potential to improve whole-body metabolism by inducing/activating BAT.” (Understanding the activation of BAT for improved diabetes treatment, 2015)
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RECRUITMENT AND ACTIVATION OF BROWN ADIPOCYTES AS PREVENTIVE AND CURATIVE THERAPY FOR TYPE 2 DIABETES. (2015, October 21). Retrieved from DIABAT: http://www.diabat.org/content/index_eng.html
Understanding the activation of BAT for improved diabetes treatment. (2015, October 20th). Retrieved October 21, 2015, from Medical press: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-10-diabetes-treatment.html?utm_source=nwletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=ctgr-item&utm_campaign=daily-nwletter
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