Sildenafil (marketed as Viagra) may work as a weight loss treatment by coaxing our bodies to store healthier "brown fat," rather than unhealthy "white fat," report scientists in the The FASEB Journal.
The researchers say sildenafil inhibits the breakdown of cyclic GMP, a messenger molecule used by the body to control blood pressure and flow, and which also plays an important role in determining which type of fat - white or brown - the body stores.
Researcher Alexander Pfeifer used mice to show that cyclic GMP reduced the secretion of pro-inflammatory hormones, which, in turn, shifted the "color code" of fat from white to brown. Mice treated with sildenafil showed browning of the white fat after just a few days of treatment.
The finding that Viagra can change our body fat composition may have major implications. "There is a growing need for novel treatments against obesity," said Pfeifer, from the University of Bonn. "Finding new positive effects of existing drugs, such as sildenafil, in adipose tissue might help to bridge the period until novel drugs against obesity have been developed."
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Source: Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology