Methods and Compositions for Inducing Brown Adipogenesis: Decreasing Fat Stores, Treating Weight Gain or Insulin Resistance

Joslin Diabetes Center


The most common fat cells are white adipose tissue (WAT) cells, which have a thin ring of cytoplasm surrounding a lipid or fat droplet. WAT is found underneath the skin and provides heat insulation, cushioning against shock and jarring, and energy reserves. An average lean person has roughly 20 to 40 billion WAT cells, and an obese person can have up to ten times more WAT than the average lean person. The less common fat cells are the brown adipose tissue (BAT) cells. Energy expenditure for thermogenesis in BAT serves either to maintain body temperature in the cold or to waste food energy. It has roles in thermal balance and energy balance, and when defective, is usually associated with obesity. BAT is usually atrophied in obese animals. The importance of BAT in overall energy homeostasis is underscored by the finding that ablation of BAT in mice results in severe obesity accompanied by insulin resistance, hyperglycaemia, hyperlipidaemia, and hypercholesterolaemia.


One potential avenue for therapeutic modulation of a person's weight might be to alter the balance between WAT and BAT cells.


The inventors have discovered that several members of a well-known family of protein factors are involved in adipocyte differentiation. Specifically, it was found that treatment of pluripotent mesenchymal stem cells with specific molecules in this family triggers commitment of the stem cells to the brown adipocyte lineage. Further, implantation into animal models of stem cells treated in this way led to development of both brown and white adipocytes, but the animals showed enhanced insulin sensitivity compared to controls.


The invention therefore comprises methods for decreasing fat stores or treating weight gain or insulin resistance, by treating mesenchymal stem cells with a factor from this family and implanting the resulting cell population into the patient.


A US patent application claiming this invention has been filed. Joslin Diabetes Center is offering a worldwide, exclusive license to this technology. Please enquire quoting reference no. JDP-101.

Ronald Kahn, M.D. and Yu-Hua Tseng, Ph.D.

Abstract Details

Pipeline Status: Preclinical
Platform: Platform Technology
Published Date: 4 Feb 2016
Original Date: 9 Nov 2005

Contact Details

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Joslin Diabetes Center
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