Brown fat prevents diabetes and obesity

Brown fat prevents diabetes and obesity

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How brown fat protects our body from obesity

Brown adipose tissue protects people from the development of obesity and diabetes. This shows that fat does not always have to be negative for the human body.

A recent study by Rutgers University in New Brunswick found that brown fat can help protect against obesity and diabetes. The results of the study were published in the English-language journal "Nature".

What role does brown fat play in the body?

People have brown fat in their body, which is activated when the body is cold. Brown fat is stored in areas such as the neck, clavicle, kidneys and spinal cord. When brown fat is activated by cool temperatures, sugar and fat from the blood are used to generate heat in the body. Researchers have now found out how this brown fat can protect against obesity and diabetes. The results expand knowledge of the importance of brown fat for human health and could lead to new drugs to treat obesity and type 2 diabetes.

How does brown fat protect against obesity and diabetes?

The study found that brown fat can help filter and remove branched chain amino acids (BCAA) from the blood. BCAAs (leucine, isoleucine and valine) are found, for example, in foods such as eggs, meat, fish, chicken and milk, but also in dietary supplements that are used by some athletes and people to build muscle mass. At normal concentrations in the blood, these amino acids are essential for good health. Too large amounts are associated with diabetes and obesity. The researchers found that people with little or no brown fat have a reduced ability to remove BCAA from their blood, and that this can lead to the development of obesity and diabetes. The study clearly shows how BCAAs get into the mitochondria, which generate energy and heat in cells. The research group found that a novel protein (SLC25A44) controls the rate at which brown fat removes the amino acids from the blood and uses them to generate energy and heat.

Do BCAA preparations harm the human body?

The results clarify the paradox that BCAA supplements can benefit potentially healthy people with active brown fat, but can also harm older people, obese people and diabetics. The researchers now have to determine whether the intake of BCAA by brown fat can be controlled by environmental factors such as mild temperatures, the consumption of spicy foods or medication. This could improve blood sugar levels, which are known to be related to diabetes and obesity. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Takeshi Yoneshiro, Qiang Wang, Kazuki Tajima, Mami Matsushita, Hiroko Maki et al .: BCAA catabolism in brown fat controls energy homeostasis through SLC25A44, in Nature (query: 22.08.2019), Nature

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