Physical Activity; This study conducted by researchers from the University of Granada (UGR) has find that, in contrast to scientific thinking to date, higher levels of physical activity are not linked to a greater volume or activity of brown adipose tissue (BAT). BAT is a thermogenic organ that burns glucose and fats, releasing the energy that is produce in the form of heat. When BAT is activated, it consumes glucose and lipids, partially preventing them from store in other tissues; so such as white adipose tissue (or common fat), which is locate, for example, around the abdomen.
BAT in human adults
Over the last decade, several studies have unequivocally confirm; so the presence of BAT in human adults. BAT is a thermogenic organ equip to dissipate energy in the form of heat through the so-called “uncoupling protein”. Therefore, it has been postulate that generating a greater volume of BAT, and increasing its activity; which could be a potential strategy for combatting obesity and associate comorbidities, such as type 2 diabetes.
Researchers have tend to channel their efforts into identifying strategies; so to help improve BAT function safely over the long term. On this premise, previous studies have suggest that raising levels of physical activity; which be an effective strategy for increasing the volume and activity of BAT. However, the data from extant studies conduct on humans are both scarce and contradictory.
In this new study, publish in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism; so the UGR scientists investigate, for the first time; so the link between objectively measure levels of physical activity and the quantity and activity of BAT. The latter are measure by means of proton emission tomography; hence combine with compute tomography. This study was perform on a sample of sedentary young adults, whose BAT was measure (the largest cohort of its kind to date). The sample comprise 87 women and 43 men, with an average age of 22 years.
This study was part of the ACTIBATE (Activating Brown Adipose Tissue Through Exercise) project, which was implement by the University of Granada during 2014-2017. It was fund by Spain’s then-Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, via the Health Research Fund of the Carlos III Institute of Health.
The authors of the article observe that there was no link between the levels of physical activity and the volume and activity of BAT, even after adjusting the analyses for covariables that could be influencing the results. Nor was the time spent sedentary with the volume and activity of BAT, they note.
The authors conclude that, although physical activity is one of the main interventions recommend in the prevention of chronic diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes, other mechanisms beyond an increase in the volume and activity of BAT could be mediating its beneficial metabolic effects. These findings contradict the results of previous studies, and call into question the role of exercise in improving BAT function.