Weight-loss treatment that makes mice fat could also work in humans

Scientists have discovered a new weight loss treatment that causes mice to ‘sweat out’ fat. They say it can even be used in humans to tackle obesity.

Researchers found that it is possible to cause stomach fat loss by targeting the immune system, although the knock-on effect is greasy hair.

They made the discovery after treating mice with the cytokine thymus stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) — a type of immune system protein — which led to significant fat and weight loss.

Scroll down for video

Scientists have discovered a new weight-loss treatment that makes mice ‘sweat out’ fat – saying it could even be used in humans to tackle obesity (stock image)

WHAT IS THE CYTOKINE TSLP AND HOW CAN IT HELP WITH WEIGHT LOSS?

Researchers treated mice with the cytokine thymus stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) — a type of immune system protein implicated in asthma and other allergic diseases.

They found that it led to significant fat and weight loss, but it was not caused by reduced food intake or a faster metabolism.

Instead, it was because the TSLP stimulated the immune system to release lipids through the skin’s oil-producing sebaceous glands.

This reversed obesity in the mice and reduced their weight from 45 g to a healthy 25 g over a four-week period.

TSLP-treated mice also saw a decrease in their visceral fat mass — the white fat stored in the abdomen around major organs, which can increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Unexpectedly, however, this was not caused by reduced food intake or faster metabolism, but because the TSLP stimulated the immune system to release lipids through the skin’s oil-producing sebaceous glands.

“This was a completely unexpected finding, but we showed that fat loss can be achieved by excreting calories from the skin in the form of energy-rich sebum,” said lead author Taku Kambayashi of the University of Pennsylvania study.

“We believe we are the first group to show a non-hormonal way to induce this process, emphasizing an unexpected role for the body’s immune system.”

Kambayashi said the findings support the possibility that increasing sebum production through the immune system could be a strategy for treating obesity in humans.

Researchers investigated the role of TSLP, which is involved in asthma and other allergic diseases, in activating Type 2 immune cells and expanding T-regulatory cells.

Previous studies have suggested that these cells can regulate energy metabolism, so Kambayashi’s team predicted that giving TSLP to overweight mice could stimulate an immune response that would counteract some of the harmful effects of obesity.

‘Initially, we thought that TSLP would have no effect on obesity itself. What we wanted to know was whether it could affect insulin resistance,” Kambayashi said.

‘We thought the cytokine could correct type 2 diabetes without actually causing the mice to lose weight.’

Scientists made the discovery after feeding mice the cytokine thymus stromal lymphopoietin - a type of protein of the immune system - which led to significant fat and weight loss (stock image)

Scientists made the discovery after feeding mice the cytokine thymus stromal lymphopoietin – a type of protein of the immune system – which led to significant fat and weight loss (stock image)

To test the effect of TSLP on type 2 diabetes, the researchers injected obese mice with a viral vector that would increase their bodies’ TSLP levels.

After four weeks, the team found that TSLP not only affected diabetes risk, but also reversed obesity in the mice.

While the control group continued to gain weight, the weight of the TSLP-treated mice went from an average of 45 g to a healthy 25 g in just 28 days.

TSLP-treated mice also saw a decrease in their visceral fat mass — the white fat stored in the abdomen around major organs, which can increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Kambayashi assumed that the TSLP made the mice sick and reduced their appetite. However, further testing revealed that they ate 20 to 30 percent more compared to their untreated counterparts.

It was then that he remembered a small comment he had previously ignored.

“When I looked at the furs of the TSLP-treated mice, I saw that they glistened in the light. I always knew exactly which mice had been treated because they were so much shinier than the others,” Kambayashi said.

He then wondered if their oily hair was a sign that the mice were “sweating fat” from their skin, a theory the researchers tested by shaving the TSLP-treated mice and the controls and removing oil from their fur.

They found that the glossy coat contained sebum-specific lipids, proving Kambayashi’s hypothesis correctly. Sebum is a caloric substance produced by sebaceous cells in the sebaceous glands and helps form the skin barrier.

It confirmed that the release of oil through the skin was responsible for the TSLP-induced fat loss.

Researchers said in humans, shifting sebum release to “higher gear” could potentially lead to “fat sweating” and weight loss, which they plan to test next.

“I don’t think we naturally control our weight by regulating sebum production, but we may be able to stop the process and increase sebum production to trigger fat loss,” Kambayashi said.

“This could lead to new therapeutic interventions that reverse obesity and lipid disorders.”

The research is published in the journal Science.

OBESITY HAD A MILLION PEOPLE IN HOSPITAL IN ENGLAND LAST YEAR

In England, a record one million people were hospitalized for obesity in 2020, official data shows.

Data released by NHS Digital shows that admissions for conditions caused by obesity or where obesity affected people’s treatment increased 17 percent from 2019 to 2020.

Women accounted for nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of hospital cases, and admissions were more common in poorer than affluent areas.

NHS England medical director Professor Stephen Powis called the numbers “shocking” and said they were “a growing sign of the country’s obesity crisis”.

He said obese people were at risk for cancer, heart disease and stroke and also put extra pressure on the NHS, which spends billions of pounds each year treating people for their weight.

People were most often hospitalized for arthritis in their hips and knees and for heart disease, while others required immediate treatment for their weight.

The NHS figures show that around 10,780 admissions were directly caused by obesity – for weight loss or gastric surgery – with the rest for problems related to obesity.

But in total there were 1.02 million hospitalizations where someone’s obesity was cited as the main or secondary cause of their visit, up from 876,000 the year before.

The most common of these were for appointments during pregnancy, knee and hip arthritis, and heart disease.

Carrying extra pounds is not only a strain on your physical health, but also on the health service, so as lockdown restrictions begin to ease, there’s never been a better time to take steps to adopt a healthier lifestyle. lead,” said Professor Powis.

.