While we’ve long known that there are two types of body fat – white fat and brown fat – they were thought to basically behave and develop in the same way.
However, University of Melbourne researchers leading an international study have discovered that white fat actually contains three different subtypes of cells. One type behaves as a normal fat cell, another rapidly releases fat into the bloodstream, 100 times faster than other fat cells, and the third cell type helps to burn energy at a high rate. Researchers found that study participants with type 2 diabetes tended to have more of the fat-releasing cell subtypes and less of the fat-burning cell subtypes.
It’s hoped this discovery will lead to scientists being able to figure out how to ‘switch off’ the action of the fat-releasing cells while ‘switching on’ the energy-burning cells. This could have far-reaching consequences in terms of finding more effective ways to help people lose weight and also for treatment of the health issues linked to obesity.
Article sources and references
- Cell Reports, April 2019