American scientists discovered a group of cells in the small intestine that slows down metabolism and increase fat accumulation.
The study published on Wednesday in the journal — Nature — may lend a clue to prevent and treat obesity, diabetes and hypertension.
Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital in the US found that mice lacking those cells called intraepithelial T lymphocytes or natural IELs could burn fat and sugar without gaining weight.
When those cells are present, they suppress a hormone that speeds up metabolism and conserves more energy it gets from food.
Such a mechanism used to be an evolutionary advantage when food was scarce in ancient time, but “with the food so abundant,
this energy-saving mechanism can backfire and lead to unhealthy outcomes,” said the paper’s lead researcher Filip Swirski from Massachusetts General Hospital.
Swirski’s study can eventually contribute to cardiovascular disease and other metabolic ailments.