Share on PinterestAn intriguing study finds that boosting levels of a certain cytokine causes mice to “sweat” fat. Carmen Jiménez/EyeEm/Getty Images
- Researchers have induced weight loss in obese mice by boosting levels of an immune-signaling molecule or “cytokine.”
- The fat loss did not result from eating less or faster metabolism but by increased secretion of calorie-rich sebum from oil-producing glands in the animals’ skin.
- The researchers propose that immune-modifying drugs that induce the skin to “sweat” fat could be a strategy for treating obesity in people.
Adults with overweight or obesity are up to seven times as likely to develop chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, and heart disease, compared with individuals with moderate weight.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 4 million people die each year globally due to having overweight and obesity.
Many individuals struggle to maintain a moderate weight through diet and exercise alone. Although there are few drug treatments for overweight and obesity, they have side effects.
One novel treatment strategy that scientists are exploring is to target the immune system, which is known to affect the metabolism of fat or “adipose” tissue.
Researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia speculated that they could treat insulin resistance in obese mice by boosting levels of a cytokine or immune signal called thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP).
Doctors characterize type 2 diabetes by the body’s tissues no longer responding to insulin, a hormone that regulates glucose levels in the blood.
The scientists were surprised to discover that TSLP not only improved glucose metabolism in the mice but also reduced their weight.
Curiously, the weight loss did not have associations with a faster metabolism, greater levels of physical activity, increased excretion of calories, or decreased intake of food. In fact, the mice with raised TSLP levels ate 20–30% more than control mice.
Dr. Taku Kambayashi, Ph.D.,an …….