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Promoting Good Fat

June 6, 2014

The immune system could help keep the body in fat burning mode.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

New ways to promote good fat. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

720px-IL4_Crystal_Structure_recombinant Ramin Herati Wikipedia public domain

Crystal structure of interleukin 4. (Ramin Herati/Wikipedia)

Cold temperatures tell our bodies to burn fat to keep warm, and also to create a particular type of fat, called beige fat, which helps facilitate burning those extra calories. Now, two studies published in the journal Cell show that unexpectedly, our immune systems are essential to this phenomenon. Physiologist Ajay Chawla, at the University of California, San Francisco, was lead author of a paper that detailed the immune connection in mice. He says interleukin 4, a compound involved in inflammation and wound repair, is key.

Ajay Chawla (University of California, San Francisco):

If you take a normal mouse and make it fat and then give it this interleukin-4, which is the immune signal, in this case, the mouse will make more of these beige fat cells and become skinnier.

HIRSHON:

Chawla says the finding opens up the potential for new methods to help people control weight. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.