Garvan Logo Medicine Formoterol, known as a new generation asthma medication seems to be more beneficial than previously thought. A team of Australian scientists have revealed that formoterol not only improves fat, but also enhances protein metabolism. Appearing as a synthetic catecholamine, formoterol has major implications in the world of health and medicine.

Formoterol may be highly selective for the kind of catecholamine receptors found in the lungs, and not those in the heart. It is also presumed to be similar to a receptor found in muscle and fat. The drug was provided in oral form to 8 healthy men for a period of one week. As a result, a more than 10 percent increment in energy metabolism was reported along with a more than 25 percent elevation in fat burning. Also a 15 percent decline in protein burning was registered.

“We have known for a long time that catecholamine influences the way the body handles nutrients, in particular fat and protein. The generation of drugs before formoterol was exploited in the livestock industry around 20 years ago – to reduce the fat and increase the protein content of meat. Unfortunately, these older drugs also caused a faster heart rate,” commented endocrinologist and lead investigator Dr Paul Lee.

Even though whole body metabolism supposedly increased, these men burned fat while reducing the burning of protein. This may further lead to a loss in fat mass and a raise in muscle. While all 8 subjects tolerated the medication well, no significant increase in heart rate was allegedly found. Additional investigations will be conducted to highlight the beneficial effects of formoterol in enhancing body composition, health and function.

The study was presented at The Endocrine Society’s 93rd Annual Meeting in Boston.