Failure of brown fat tied to age-related weight gain

Why do older people have to work harder to stay slimmer than their younger counterparts? According to a new study from Japan, it’s because people lose healthy “brown fat” as they age. Brown fat, also known as brown adipose tissue (BAT), is a healthy fat that helps regulate body warmth and keeps the metabolism of bad white fat—found around the waist and thighs—in check.

Researchers at the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Shizuoka in Japan put this theory to the test. They bred two groups of mice: one group did not have the platelet-activating factor receptor (PAFR) gene and the other group was bred normally.

The mice missing the PAFR gene gained weight more easily with age than the normal mice. They also failed to showcase important gene changes that affect metabolism of fat, liver, and muscle tissue. The researchers concluded that without the PAFR gene, the ability to generate heat of brown fat becomes disrupted and can lead to obesity.

Targeting the PAFR gene in the future may help treat obesity or other related metabolic disorders.

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