The worldwide obesity problem is steadily increasing, which necessitates the search for new targets to fight the accumulation of excess fat (also called adipose) tissue. Interestingly, it was recently discovered that apart from normal white adipose tissue (WAT), which is responsible for storing fat in oil droplets, adult humans also possess a pool of brown adipose tissue (BAT). The purpose of this BAT is to burn fat into heat. It was long thought that BAT only exists in newborns as they are unable to produce body heat through shivering. However, novel scientific findings have shown that white fat cells are able to transform – upon activation – into brown-like fat cells which are also able to burn lipids into heat. Activation of this white-to-brown fat cell transformation, called “adipocyte browning”, is a promising target for eliminating fat deposits.
How do brown fat cells burn their fat instead of storing it?
Brown adipocytes (fat cells) constitute the BAT. In contrast to white adipocytes, brown ones contain much smaller fat droplets and a much higher number of mitochondria, the organelles that generate energy for the cell. The brown color of the BAT is the result of the presence of iron in the numerous mitochondria. In brown adipocytes, a protein called uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) is highly abundant. This protein is localized to the membranes of mitochondria where it short-circuits the mechanism for energy production. Thereby, heat is produced while energy is consumed which eventually leads to the elimination of fat deposits. Activating white fat cells to express UCP1 would lead to an increase in fat burning without additional exercise.
Combining two approaches to efficiently combat cellulite
Cellulite is characterized by an uneven skin profile, mostly on the upper thighs, abdomen and buttocks and affects around 90% of women. Conversely, men are less affected. This fact is explained by the specific nature of the adipose tissue in the thighs and buttocks of women which contains more fat and the adjacent connective tissue which is structured in a different manner to that of men. Indeed, the fat chambers in female fat tissues extend much more easily and preferentially vertically to store fat cells. The dimply appearance is caused by the extension of the fat tissue into the fibrous connective tissue. Larger fat deposits exacerbate this problem as the pressure from the fat onto the connective tissue increases. Additionally, decreased blood flow in this region of the body makes it difficult for lipids to be released from the adipose tissue and also leads to water retention which further contributes to cellulite.
To reduce cellulite appearance, a cosmetic active would need to act in a twofold manner: it should increase local blood flow by vasodilation (widening of the blood vessels to allow better microcirculation) and induce adipocyte browning to reduce fat deposits.
Based on these new findings, Mibelle Biochemistry developed ShapePerfection, a liposoluble active ingredient based on two potent vasodilators that induce the browning of adipocytes: an organic sprout extract from the Brassica alba species, the spicy mustard and natural capsaicin, the active component of chili peppers. Sprouts as a source for cosmetic ingredients are especially interesting due to their richness in phytonutrients. These “health promoting phytochemicals” protect the plant from disease, damage, pathogens, extreme UV, pollutants and help to defend it against herbivores. Furthermore, many of these phytochemicals are known to exert beneficial effects on human health. Phytonutrients are highly abundant in sprouts because at this stage plants are not yet lignified and thus, especially vulnerable. This is why sprouts are the plant material with the highest level of phytonutrients.
Mibelle Biochemistry discovered that with an extract of organic mustard sprouts it is possible to transform WAT into BAT by increasing UCP1 expression and thus to transform fat deposits into heat.
Placebo-controlled clinical studies further linked ShapePerfection to:
- Improved subcutaneous microcirculation
- Visibly reduced appearance of cellulite
- A slimmer silhouette