Researchers Discover New Type of Human Fat Cell

Posted on April 26, 2013

Brown Fat Cell


Researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy have discovered another type of human fat cell. The researchers say humans have two different kinds of brown fat cells and not just one kind as previously thought. Unlike white fat cells, which store the body's surplus energy in the form of fat, brown fat cells are able to burn energy and turn it into heat. A brown fat cell photographed via microscope is pictured above.

The researchers are calling the new type of brown fat tissue that they have discovered "classical brown fat." According to the Gothenburg study, young people have this classic brown fat tissue, but it seems to disappear during adolescence.

Professor Sven Enerback, co-director of the Sahlgrenska Center for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research, said in a statement, "We already know that those of us who have more brown fat tissue have a smaller risk of developing type 2 diabetes. With these new results, we should eventually be able to develop methods for stimulating the brown fat tissue, so that some of the surplus energy we store in the form of fat tissue can be converted into heat. Such a treatment could both prevent obesity and reduce the risk of developing obesity-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes."

The research was published here in Nature Medicine.

Photo: University of Gothenburg