Metabolic health can be improved in mice by inhibiting the formation of compounds called ceramides in fat cells under the skin.
Ceramides are fatty molecules that have been associated with obesity and metabolic disease. Bhagirath Chaurasia at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and his colleagues found that obese mice that could not make ceramides in fat tissue had improved energy metabolism. The mice also showed decreased inflammation and increased sensitivity to insulin (diminished sensitivity is a hallmark of type 2 diabetes). The reduction of ceramide levels in subcutaneous fat cells was linked to a cellular shift from an energy-storage mode to an energy-burning one.
The authors also report that patients with obesity and type 2 diabetes had more ceramides in subcutaneous fat cells than people of the same weight without diabetes.
Cell Metab. http://doi.org/bsn2 (2016)