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Longevity Briefs: Why Having The Right Kind of Fat Can Protect Against Ageing

Posted on 16 October 2020

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Longevity briefs provides a short summary of a novel research, medicine, or technology that caught the attention of our researchers in Oxford, due to its potential to improve our health, wellbeing, and longevity.

Why is this research important: Not all fat tissue is equal. In humans, brown and subcutaneous fat tissue is optimised to be burned for the generation of heat. This type of fat, known as thermogenic adipose tissue, declines with age, and the decline is linked to low grade chronic inflammation and increased risk of chronic diseases of ageing like type 2 diabetes.

What did the researchers do: In this article, researchers review how our understanding of the link between loss of thermogenic adipose tissue, inflammation and diabetes is taking shape. Recent research suggests that heat generation in adipose tissue requires some of the same nutritional resources as the type 1 immune response – an arm of the immune system that is primarily involved in promoting inflammation. This means that the presence of thermogenic adipose tissue may shift the immune system towards the less inflammatory type 2 response.

Key takeaway(s) from this research: Thermogenic adipose tissue may alter the balance of the immune system to reduce low-grade inflammation and thus protect against disease. Exercise, exposure to cold, and calorie restriction can reduce the loss of thermogenic adipose tissue. As this area of research develops, we may be able to develop other interventions that will target thermogenic adipose tissue to promote healthy ageing.

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