Can targeting these immune cells help manage weight gain? Researchers have come with a new mechanism to control nutrient metabolism. It can be performed in a group of immune cells in the gut to favor fat storage against energy use.
The study may help explain why common eating habits have different effects on different people. The researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, both in Boston, MA, conducted an experiment on mice with lack of “metabolically hyperactive” cells.
When the scientists put these mice on a high-fat, high-sugar diet, they didn’t develop high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, or diabetes.
“After you eat your body can convert energy into heat and burn it quickly or it can convert the food into fat and store it for later use,” senior study author Filip K. Swirski, Ph.D. explained.
“These cells, which are known for their function in the immune system, also appear to play an important role in that metabolic choice,”
Initially, the researchers fed a normal diet to two groups of mice. First group of mice (the controls) carried the gene for integrin beta 7, while the second group lacked the protein.
After conducting a metabolic tests on the mice, the team found that mice without integrin beta 7 ate more food for energy. The findings claims that “basal metabolism” of these mice run at a higher rate compared to the control mice with the protein. Additionally, they also explains that intraepithelial T cells had the highest level of integrin beta 7.
“We often speak of people who have a ‘high metabolism’ and seem to be able to eat whatever they want without gaining weight, while others struggle with obesity,” said Filip K. Swirski.