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Mechanism Underlying Tissue Cryotherapy to Combat Obesity/Overweight: Triggering Thermogenesis.


Local adipose tissue (AT) cooling is used to manage obesity and overweight, but the mechanism is unclear. The current view is that acute local cooling of AT induces adipocyte cell disruption and inflammation ("cryolipolysis") that lead to adipocyte cell death, with loss of subcutaneous fat being recorded over a prolonged period of weeks/months. A contrasting view is that AT loss via targeted cryotherapy might be mediated by thermogenic fat metabolism without cell disruption. In this retrospective study of individuals presenting for cryotherapy to the Clinic BioEsthetic, Paris, France, we recorded waist circumference, body weight, and body mass index (BMI) by direct measurement and by whole-body dual-energy X-ray absorptiometric scanning. In select individuals, blood analysis of markers of inflammation and fat mobilization was performed before and after the procedure. We report that (i) single sessions of tissue cryotherapy lead to significant loss of tissue volume in the time frame of hours and (ii) multiple daily procedures lead to a cumulative decline in AT, as assessed by waist circumference, body weight, and BMI, confirmed by whole-body dual-energy X-ray absorptiometric scanning. In addition, (iii) blood analysis following tissue cryotherapy found no significant changes in biochemical parameters including markers of inflammation. Moreover, (iv) calculations of heat extracted and of compensatory weight loss taking place through thermogenesis are substantially consistent with the observed loss of AT. These findings argue that cold-induced thermogenesis ("cryothermogenesis") rather than adipocyte disruption underlies the reduction in AT volume, raising the prospect that more intensive cryotherapy may be a viable option for combating obesity and overweight.