The term adipose is generally associated with a “bad” fat under the skin which is related to obesity and unhealthiness. However, some people have good brown adipose as well. This type of tissue assists in burning down sugar and fat to emanate heat and thus increase the ability of the body to fend off winter season and not contract diseases. However, recent studies have revealed that a very popularly and frequently used drug for cardiovascular diseases belonging to the statin class reduce the amount of the brown adipose tissue, an interaction completely undesirable.
Professor Christian Wolfrum, belonging to ETH Zurich along with his group of researchers has been trying to understand the mechanism by which the white adipose gets converted to brown. They found out that the pathway related to cholesterol was the main reason for the transformation and the key enzyme responsible for it was geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate. They also reviewed articles from earlier researches and found out that statins primarily function by affecting the cholesterol pathway as well. Incidentally, their main enzyme of inhibition was geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate itself.
This spurred them to perform tomography scans on 8500 patients who were known to be taking statins. They found out that indeed there was a reduction in brown adipose tissue in statin-dependent people to 1 percent in
comparison to the 6 percent observed otherwise.
Dr. Wolfrum has warned though that this study doesn’t necessarily mean that some immediate action should be taken against the use of statins. The pharmacological prospect of this drug is huge and has been instrumental in thinning the blood and preventing cardiovascular attacks on millions of people. What this study does is make scientists aware of the interactions, so that they can work around it and find a potent solution.
Moreover, people taking statins also had an increased chance of getting diabetes. This also increases the chances of a direct relationship between the reduced brown adipose and the contraction of diabetes, which opens a huge room for further investigations. The ideal immediate step would be to find methods of formulating personalized medications that will benefit all the affected.