Brown Fat Transplants Show Benefits for Diabetic Mice

As more research is done the more it appears brown fat will play a key role in the future treatment of diabetes.

As more research is done the more it appears brown fat will play a key role in the future treatment of diabetes.

A recent study published in the American Journal of Physiology examined the potential use of brown adipose tissue (BAT) transplants in the treatment of patients with type 1 diabetes (T1D). The authors noted that in non-obese diabetic mice, “BAT transplants result in complete reversal of T1D associated with rapid and long-lasting euglycemia.” The study also showed that BAT transplants may also prevent or at least significantly delay the onset of diabetes.

The study included 27 non-obese diabetic mice or STZ-induced diabetic C57BL/6 mice. Tissues used in the study came from embryos. The mice had their weight recorded and their non-fasting blood samples collected prior to the study and at several times after the transplants were conducted. The mice that received the transplant were then euthanized at different points after 3 months of study and underwent postmortem testing.

The authors noted that the transplants seemed to help boost insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). “Adipogenic and anti-inflammatory properties of IGF-1 may stimulate regeneration of healthy white adipose tissue, which in turn secretes hypoglycemic adiokines that substitute for insulin,” the report noted. “These data demonstrate the potential for insulin-independent reversal of autoimmune-induced T1D with BAT transplants and implicate IGF-1 as a likely mediator in the resulting equilibrium.”

The authors noted that while they were encouraged by many of the results there was still more work to be done. “Although the current data demonstrate the ability of BAT transplants to correct autoimmune diabetes without insulin, the success rates were less than reported previously (27) with STZ-diabetic models.” They added, “It seems likely that failed transplants did not generate adequate amounts of anti-inflammatory and adipogenic factors to regenerate and maintain healthy adipose tissue.”

Funding for the study was provided by the Iacocca Family Foundation and the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.