Trying to lose weight? A group of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine may have stumbled upon a potential mechanism that could allow fat to be perspired out of the body. They show this to have happened in their experiments with mice in a study published in the journal Science.
Thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) is a cytokine, a type of protein in the immune system. This research group has studied the role of TSLP in overweight mice, and in particular investigated its potential role in insulin resistance. What they found was something completely different.
The TSLP ended up affecting their risk for diabetes, but it also reversed their obesity. Perhaps the key to how this happened was what the mice transpired from their bodies. “When I looked at the coats of the TSLP-treated mice, I noticed that they glowed in the light. I always knew exactly which mice had been treated because they were so much brighter than the rest, ”says lead researcher Taku Kambayashi, associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at Penn, in a report. Press release.
Kambayashi was interested in why there was this shard in the secretions and wanted to test what was in it. The team performed several tests and found that it contained lipids specific to sebum. Sebum is a calorically dense substance that is produced by highly specialized epithelial cells. In short, this oil released through the skin helped mice lose weight.
“It was a completely unforeseen discovery, but we demonstrated that fat loss can be achieved by secreting calories from the skin in the form of energy-rich sebum,” Kambayashi explains in the press release. “We believe we are the first group to show a non-hormonal way to induce this process, highlighting an unexpected role for the body’s immune system.”
The team wanted to know if TSLP was linked to oil secretion in humans and found that it was positively correlated with gene expression in sebaceous glands. This makes them think that it might be possible to increase the release of sebum in humans so that they can “sweat” fat in a way that promotes weight loss.
Kambayashi says, “I don’t think we naturally control our weight by regulating sebum production, but maybe we can hijack the process and increase sebum production to cause fat loss. This could lead to new therapeutic interventions that reverse obesity and lipid disorders. “
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