The distribution and function of the body’s adipose tissue change throughout the course of life. A special kind of adipocytes known as brown fat cells are capable of using fatty deposit energy reserves by a process of generating heat called thermogenesis. As we get older, brown fat cells change into white fat cells. Thermogenisis stops and with it the cells’ capability of burning fat; and obesity risk increases because of this. Researchers have now shown that an epigenetic enzyme called lysine specific demethylase 1 (Lsd1) plays a major part in this transformation.
The amount of brown adipocytes is reduced when levels of Lsd1 decline in aging adipose tissue. The researchers were able to maintain the production of Lsd1 in fat cells, thus reducing age-related transformation of brown fat cells to white fat cells. In a mice experiment, the amount of brown fat cells in older mice was maintained at almost the level equivalent to that of younger mice. The researchers also revealed that loss of Lsd1 in younger mice resulted in premature fat cell transformation. To study this, a fluorescent protein was used to mark the brown fat cells and the transformation to white fat cells was reproduced.
As an example, cold treatment can be used to generate brown fat cells, which then make use of fatty acids for producing warmth, and body weight gain is restricted because of this. The researchers showed that Lsd1 isn’t just important for brown fat cell development, but also for brown fat cell maintenance. So an elevation in Lsd1 levels is essential for effective calorie burning.
The study also demonstrated that Lsd1 maintains brown fat cells via the target gene Ppara, which can be activated or suppressed therapeutically. The researchers proved that activation of Ppara is enough to prevent the premature loss of brown fat cells in mice with low Lsd1 levels. So the mice had protection from metabolic disorders which are a result of Lsd1 loss.
The graphic below shows ways to help increase brown fat cells. As an example, cold treatment can be used to generate brown fat cells, which then make use of fatty acids for producing warmth, and body weight gain is restricted because of this.