On May 1, researchers published in Cell Metabolism a study linking the 12,13-diHOME lipokine released during exercise with fatty acid uptake. Interestingly, this exact same hormone is also enhanced in humans and mice with exposure to cold temperatures.
Lipokines, lipids naturally produced by the body under certain circumstances, improve insulin secretion and glucose tolerance, and act as signaling molecules for the systemic metabolism. For that reason, they are considered a potential target to treat diabetes and other metabolic disorders. The 12,13-dihydroxy-9Z-octadecenoic acid (12,13-diHOME) was identified by Harvard scientists as a stimulator of brown adipose tissue, which is the tissue that consumes lipids to produce heat. They also discovered that this lipokine increased circulation in humans exposed to cold temperatures.
In the Cell Metabolism paper, researchers reported an increase in circulating 12,13-diHOME after moderate exercise in mice and humans. Researchers observed this increase in individuals of all ages and either gender. Furthermore, the lipokine levels also increased after exercise in sedentary persons and in those who are physically active.
What these researchers found as “striking and somewhat unexpected,” was the release at similar levels of 12,13-diHOME after exposure to cold temperatures and exercise and the parallel behavior of the lipokine to promote fatty acid uptake in brown adipose tissue.
While more research is necessary, studying the role that 12,13-diHOME lipokine plays in fat uptake opens the way for a wider understanding of human metabolism and the potential development of treatments for obesity and related diseases.