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Training on the determination of human brown adipose tissue using PET/MR images

Grant number: 18/05479-6
Support type:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Post-doctor
Effective date (Start): June 01, 2018
Effective date (End): August 31, 2018
Field of knowledge:Health Sciences - Nutrition
Principal Investigator:Licio Augusto Velloso
Grantee:Milena Monfort Pires
Supervisor abroad: Virtanen Kirsi A
Home Institution: Faculdade de Ciências Médicas (FCM). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Local de pesquisa : University of Turku, Finland  
Associated to the scholarship:16/10616-7 - Effect of monounsaturated fatty acids consumption in brown/beige adipose tissue activity in human adults, BP.PD


The significant increase in the prevalence of overweight and obesity in the last decades around the world has augmented the morbi-mortality rates associated with non-communicable chronic diseases. It is well established that the increase of white adipose tissue, especially the visceral one, stimulates the synthesis of inflammatory mediators that act to deteriorate insulin signaling and increase subclinical inflammation, triggering several of these diseases. Different from the white adipose tissue, the brown adipose tissue (BAT) is specialized in dissipating energy by producing heat and plays an important role in the regulation of energy balance. There is strong evidence that its activity is inversely associated with obesity and metabolic diseases and it is speculated that BAT functions as a "metabolic sink", showing a strong therapeutic potential for reducing obesity and its comorbidities. During a few years, 18F-FDG PET/CT was considered the best available technique to investigate BAT, but in the last years the use of PET/MRI and other labeled tracers have been emerging. Since BAT can be influenced by insulin sensitivity and uptakes fatty acids as well as glucose, it is believed that an insulin-independent marker or an image able to evaluate BAT independent of the glucose uptake would be a more accurate tool. In this work we investigated weather consuming olive oil for four weeks could increase BAT activity in lean and obese humans. Our preliminary results indicate a reduction in BAT activity, but such a reduction was not accompanied by a decrease in the tissue volume, which was maintained after four weeks. It is not clear whether BAT was reduced or if the olive oil consumption could reduce glucose uptake by increasing oxidation of fatty acids. Professor Kirsi Virtanen's group was one of the first groups to show the presence of active BAT in adult humans in 2009, and she is one of the few researchers working with PET/MR and BAT. Also, her group has great expertise in the field and developed a protocol for calculating BAT using PET/MR. We believe that this opportunity of training abroad (BEPE-FAPESP) will elevate the quality of our research.