Losing weight—and maintaining a lower body weight—is notoriously challenging. Ann Marie Schmidt, MD, the Dr. Iven Young Professor of Endocrinology in NYU Langone’s Department of Medicine, and her team of researchers have identified a cellular protein in mice that is responsible for shutting down the ability to burn fat in times of physiological stress. That protein, called the receptor for advanced glycation end products, or RAGE, likely served as an anti-starvation evolutionary function for humans when food was scarce and the body needed to retain its resources. Now, that role is less useful, but RAGE remains.
“In times of plenty, when there is no shortage of nutrients, the receptor is still present and is able to continue to exert that unfortunate role of hoarding the energy and not allowing it to be expended,” Dr. Schmidt tells The Atlantic.
Dr. Schmidt’s study shows that deleting RAGE from fat cells in mice caused them to gain 70 percent less weight and maintain lower glucose levels than conventional mice. Transplanting a small amount of brown fat tissue from the mice without RAGE into conventional mice allowed the conventional mice to also experience those weight benefits. Dr. Schmidt says that translating the findings to humans will be tedious, but she is optimistic about the potential therapeutic benefits.
Read more from The Atlantic.