Editors' ChoiceMetabolism

Fat-Burning Fat

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Science Signaling  01 Jun 2010:
Vol. 3, Issue 124, pp. ec164
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.3124ec164

In mammals, fat exists in two forms—the well-known white adipose tissue (WAT), which stores energy and is associated with obesity, and the lesser-known brown adipose tissue (BAT), which burns energy to generate heat. BAT’s role in human physiology was once thought to be restricted to newborns, but the recent discovery that adults also harbor functional BAT has reignited interest in the factors regulating BAT development and their potential as targets for antiobesity therapies. Vegiopoulos et al. (see the Perspective by Ishibashi and Seale) now show that cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), an enzyme critical to prostaglandin synthesis, triggers fat progenitor cells in mice to differentiate into BAT rather than WAT. Mice overexpressing COX-2 displayed increased energy expenditure and were protected from diet-induced obesity.

A. Vegiopoulos, K. Müller-Decker, D. Strzoda, I. Schmitt, E. Chichelnitskiy, A. Ostertag, M. Berriel Diaz, J. Rozman, M. Hrabe de Angelis, R. M. Nüsing, C. W. Meyer, W. Wahli, M. Klingenspor, S. Herzig, Cyclooxygenase-2 controls energy homeostasis in mice by de novo recruitment of brown adipocytes. Science 328, 1158–1161 (2010). [Abstract][Full Text]

J. Ishibashi, P. Seale, Beige can be slimming. Science 328, 1113–1114 (2010). [Summary][Full Text]