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Oct 20, 2016
 |  BC Innovations  |  Translation in Brief

Killer burn

Tapping iNKT cells to spark thermogenesis in obesity

A Cell Metabolism study argues a type of immune cell, dubbed invariant NK T (iNKT) cell, is responsible for the weight-lowering effects of glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP-1R; GLP1R) agonists by increasing fat browning and thermogenesis in neighboring adipocytes. The Harvard-based authors proposed compounds that directly activate the cells could complement GLP-1R agonists, further boosting weight loss in patients with obesity or diabetes, or enable treatment of non-responders.

Lydia Lynch, an author on the study and instructor in medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, told BioCentury although iNKT cells primarily reside in adipose tissue and are sensitive to lipid antigens, their role in metabolism was unclear when first explored in 2009, with some early studies identifying pro-obesity and others anti-obesity effects.

“Since then, there seems to be more evidence that iNKT cells...

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