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A recent study from Australian researchers has highlighted the detrimental effects of hidden fat within muscles on overall health and aging. While many focus on shedding belly fat for cosmetic reasons, this study sheds light on the importance of addressing a less-known type of fat residing within muscles.

Published in the journal Molecular Aspects of Medicine, the research underscores the significance of fibro-adipogenic progenitors (FAPs), cells hidden deep within muscles, in influencing various health conditions, including obesity and muscle degeneration.

Intermuscular adipose tissue linked to muscle atrophy

Intermuscular adipose tissue (IMAT), a type of fat accumulating within muscles, is a consequence of the activity of FAPs. Although FAPs are essential for muscle repair and maintenance, they can also convert into fat cells, contributing to IMAT and its associated health issues. This dual role of FAPs underscores their complex nature in the context of muscle health.

Lead author Dr. Osvaldo Contreras highlights the urgency of understanding and addressing the risks associated with IMAT, which include muscle atrophy, diminished functional capacity, inflammation, insulin resistance, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic disorders, and accelerated aging. By targeting FAPs, researchers aim to develop therapies to combat muscle degeneration and obesity. Preventing FAPs from transforming into fat cells could help maintain muscle mass and function, especially in aging populations or individuals with chronic diseases.

Enhancing fibro-adipogenic progenitors promotes muscle repair

Moreover, enhancing the beneficial roles of FAPs could promote muscle repair and regeneration after injuries. Exercise emerges as a critical factor in maintaining muscle health and resilience, with weight training being particularly emphasized. Dr. Flores-Opazo from the Institute of Health Sciences at Universidad de O’Higgins in Chile emphasizes the importance of regular exercise in combating frailty and various diseases.

In conclusion, the discovery of the pivotal role of FAPs in muscle health offers promising prospects for research and treatment. As scientists delve deeper into understanding the mechanisms of these cells, they inch closer to developing therapies that could significantly impact public health and potentially slow down the aging process. The study underscores the importance of addressing hidden fat within muscles for overall health and well-being.