Brown fat is a health-friendly fat that helps the body to burn calories, instead of storing the energy as fat. Typically, adults do not have a lot of brown fat. A new study suggests that heart hormones may stimulate the production of brown fat cells. Researchers conducted a study on animals and reported that cardiac natriuretic peptide, the heart hormone, turns white fat cells into calorie-burning, brown fat cells.
If the same is true for humans, it may help in effective weight loss treatment, says researcher Sheila Collins, PhD, of Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute in Orlando, Florida. The results of this animal study were published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
Cardiac natriuretic peptides are normally involved in the regulation of fluid balance in the body, but the present study has shown its role in breaking down fat. This fat burning process is very similar to the functioning of the adrenaline system, which regulates fat storage and promotes weight loss. The study shows that the two systems may coordinate to stimulate the transformation of white fat cells into brown fat cells.
In the animal study, when the mice were exposed to lower temperatures, the levels of heart hormones increased in the blood, which stimulated the formation of the brown fat cells. A similar study was conducted to humans also displayed similar results that cold promotes the burning of fat by the brown fat cells.
In the human study, the six participants were kept in a cold room and their metabolic rate was measured. The results showed that when the temperature was low enough to feel cold but not shiver, the metabolic rate increased by 80%. The participants burned an additional 250 calories over a period of three hours. This increased metabolic rate is caused by the brown fat, which burns the white fat in the body.
Scientists are under the impression that this study will definitely pave the way for finding an effective treatment for weight loss by stimulating the formation of more brown fat cells or by increasing the fat burning potential of these fat cells.
Many researchers doubt the effectiveness of this process and have a growing concern about the potential harm that this process may cause. They believe that the results should be considered with caution and more studies need to be done in the field before a suitable treatment option can be reached.