A scientific team found that the CXCL14 protein, associated with tumour progression and organogenesis, causes beneficial effects to metabolic diseases such as obesity and diabetes. According to the study, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, CXCL14 is synthetized by the brown adipose tissue and can activate anti-inflammatory activity cells –M2 type macrophages- that produce a beneficial effect in the organism.
This new study –a significant advance to understand the relation between active brown fat and good metabolic health- is signed by a team led by Professor Francesc Villarroya, from the Faculty of Biology and the Institute of Biomedicine of the University of Barcelona, and member of the Nutrition Networking Biomedical Research Centre (CIBERobn) from Institute of Health Carlos III. The study, carried out with laboratory animals, proves that a lack of CXCL14 damages the activity of the brown adipose tissue and alters glucose homeostasis, an essential molecule in the cellular energy metabolism.
Therefore, the study notes that healthy effects of the brown adipose tissue in the metabolism do not stick to the ability of burning metabolites and producing heat –thermogenesis- as it was believed so far, but they expand to the synthesis of beneficial-action molecules in the body.
M2 type macrophages: anti-inflammatory cells in action
One of the complications related to obesity is the colonization of the adipose tissue by pro-inflammatory cells (such as M1 type macrophages), a process that creates metabolic and cardiovascular alterations.
Within this study, the research team found that once the brown adipose tissue is active, it releases the CXCL14 molecule, which is able to gather anti-inflammatory action cells from the immune system –M2 type macrophages- to the adipose tissue. Also, the new study states that this cytokine boosts the white adipose tissue conversion into brown fat.
According to the results, the relation of the different adipose tissues (white and brown) with immune system cells (M1 and M2) is a key factor to explain the problems of too much white adipose tissue and the benefits of active brown fat.
“The research on the molecules that brown fat releases with healthy effects in the metabolism will allow us to develop new therapeutic tools, which were not considered for the treatment of metabolic diseases”, concludes Professor Francesc Villarroya.
Universitat de Barcelona