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Scientists Discover Hormone That Delivers Fat-Burning Benefits Of Exercise

January 11, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
A protein-based hormone in muscle cells that serves as a chemical messenger could be a very promising candidate for developing novel treatments for diabetes, obesity and perhaps even cancer, U.S. scientists report. The protein apparently triggers some of the key health benefits of exercise. Dubbed “irisin,” it directly affects adipose (fat) tissue that stores excess calories and contributes to obesity. A rise in irisin levels through repeated bouts of prolonged exercise – but not during short-term muscle activity – switches on genes that convert white fat into good “brown” fat, which burns off more calories than exercise itself.
Pontus Boström et al., "A PGC1-α-dependent myokine that drives brown-fat-like development of white fat and thermogenesis", Nature, January 11, 2012, © Nature Publishing Group
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