Investigating how specialised fats cells and the micronutrient selenium work together to supply physique warmth is the main target of University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Researcher Lucia Seale’s five-year grant of practically $2 million from the Nationwide Institutes of Well being (NIH).
Born in Brazil, Seale didn’t expertise chilly climate till her mid-20s. Along with her quest for heat clothes, the chilly instantly led her to marvel: how do animals adapt to chilly environments? It seems that in mammals, specialised fats cells referred to as brown adipocytes, produce warmth and assist dissipate power.
“Brown adipose tissue (BAT) in folks is a sizzling goal in weight problems intervention,” mentioned Seale. “In spite of everything, if power expenditure is elevated by activating brown adipocytes, weight reduction ought to comply with.”
Seale had beforehand found that the thyroid hormone-activating enzyme, kind 2 deiodinase, one among a small variety of selenium-containing proteins in animals, was essential to activate warmth manufacturing in BAT. For greater than a decade, she has been finding out selenium, a nutrient current in minuscule quantities in meals akin to seafood and Brazil nuts, that acts as an antioxidant, stopping oxidative injury to essential molecules in cells. After becoming a member of the UH Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) in January 2021, she turned her consideration to the position of selenium within the BAT operate.
“Figuring out a selenoprotein that’s essential to warmth manufacturing in BAT additional impressed me to ponder how selenium, by its antioxidant properties and metabolism, regulates warmth manufacturing in BAT when animals are uncovered to chilly,” mentioned Seale.
Seale’s new R01 grant, thought of the gold normal of NIH funding, was awarded to analyze this very query. As a result of brown adipocytes primarily take part in power expenditure, her analysis could have profound implications in connecting our consumption of selenium with responses of our brown fats cells that defend us from chilly environments, and in the end, assist us keep away from creating weight problems.
Seale is with the Pacific Biosciences Research Center in SOEST. Her analysis entails collaborations with colleagues on the UH Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Middle, in Boston.
This analysis is an instance of UH Mānoa’s aim of Excellence in Research: Advancing the Research and Creative Work Enterprise (PDF), one among 4 targets recognized within the 2015–25 Strategic Plan (PDF), up to date in December 2020.
–By Marcie Grabowski