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Fat Cells Feel the Burn when Metabolism is Spiced with Cinnamon

  • If you want to lose weight, you should avoid stuffing yourself with cinnamon rolls and other cinnamon-spiced treats. Yet cinnamon itself isn’t the problem. The common holiday spice might actually protect against obesity and hyperglycemia.

    Cinnamon contains an essential oil, cinnamaldehyde, that has been shown to improve the metabolic health of mice. A new study indicates that cinnamaldehyde is also beneficial in human adipocytes, or fat cells, where it reprograms metabolism and stokes thermogenesis. In other words, cinnamaldehyde can help human adipocytes burn fat.

    The fat-burning effects were observed in human cells by University of Michigan scientists, who also elucidated the underlying thermogenic mechanisms. These scientists, led by Jun Wu, Ph.D., a research assistant professor at the University of Michigan’s Life Sciences Institute, noticed that in adipocytes treated with cinnamaldehyde, cell signaling and gene expression were altered.

    In particular, cinnamaldehyde (CA) “significantly activated protein kinase A (PKA) signaling, increased expression levels of thermogenic genes, and induced phosphorylation of HSL and PLIN1 in murine primary adipocytes.” The scientists also observed an increase in Ucp1 and Fgf21, which are important metabolic regulatory proteins involved in thermogenesis.

    These and other details appear in the December issue of the journal Metabolism, in an article entitled, “Cinnamaldehyde induces fat cell-autonomous thermogenesis and metabolic reprogramming.”

    “Inhibition of PKA or p38 MAPK enzymatic activity markedly inhibited the CA-induced thermogenic response,” wrote the article’s authors. “In addition, chronic CA treatment regulates metabolic reprogramming. Importantly, both acute and chronic effects of CA were observed in human adipose stem cells isolated from multiple donors.”

    Wu and her colleagues tested human adipocytes from volunteers representing a range of ages, ethnicities, and body mass indices. Adipocytes normally store energy in the form of lipids. This long-term storage was beneficial to our distant ancestors, who had much less access to high-fat foods and thus a much greater need to store fat. That fat could then be used by the body in times of scarcity or in cold temperatures, which induce adipocytes to convert stored energy into heat.

    “It’s only been relatively recently that energy surplus has become a problem,” Dr. Wu said. “Throughout evolution, the opposite—energy deficiency—has been the problem. So, any energy-consuming process usually turns off the moment the body doesn’t need it.”

    ✅Reference

    Fat Cells Feel the Burn when Metabolism is Spiced with Cinnamon

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