Supplementary Research Support for Faculty
CLAS Supplementary Research Support: Theodore Towse
Brown adipose tissue, more commonly known as brown fat, has recently garnered widespread attention as it may help with weight loss and managing diabetes. Research in animals (mainly mice and rats) suggest that greater amounts of brown fat can protect animals from developing metabolic syndrome – a group of factors that increase an individual’s risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Only recently has brown fat been “rediscovered” in adult humans therefore relatively little is known about how it functions in human health and disease.
Paced-breathing, defined as slow, deep breathing has been promoted in the lay-press as a way of activating brown fat. If this were true it could provide powerful tool for exploring the physiology of brown fat, without the need for cold-exposure. However, no systematic study has specifically addressed the question - does paced-breathing activate brown fat? Therefore, the goal of this project is to determine if paced-breathing, defined as slow, deep breathing activates brown fat in a population of healthy human subjects. In this project undergraduates in my lab will have the opportunity to study human research subjects using a variety of cutting edge, non-invasive techniques designed to measure the whole-body response to paced-breathing and cold-exposure.