Study reveals origins of body fat

February 24, 2013 by Bill Hathaway

(Medical Xpress)—Yale School of Medicine researchers have answered a question millions regularly and plaintively ask themselves: Where did all that fat come from?

The , published online Feb. 24 in the journal , identifies specific cell types that eventually morph into white adipocytes—the cells most people recognize as fat.

"Now we can go back into the lab and ask how these cells are activated to actually make the fat,' said co-author Matthew Rodeheffer, assistant professor of and molecular, cellular, and , and a researcher at the Yale Stem Cell Center.

The increase of in obesity is particularly problematic because once established the cells are difficult to eliminate. However, surprising little is known about how fat cells first form. Rodeheffer and co-author Ryan Berry of Yale attacked the problem by isolating cells from fat and studying which cells could turn into fat cells, via a process known as differentiation. They successfully identified cells with certain types of receptors that could in fact become fat cells. The new study in mice confirmed that cells with these specific receptors on their surface are the precursors that create fat cells in the body.

Rodeheffer said it is now possible to study how these cells behave under different conditions, such as exercise, dieting, or overeating. The researchers hope to discover what causes the precursors to make new fat cells in obesity—and one day potentially block their creation.

"And that will keep us busy for the next 20 years," he said.

Explore further: Molecular switch found in mice could lead to future obesity treatments

Related Stories

Newly identified cells make fat

October 4, 2008

To understand where fat comes from, you have to start with a skinny mouse. By using such a creature, and observing the growth of fat after injections of different kinds of immature cells, scientists at the Howard Hughes Medical ...

Fat-regenerating 'stem cells' found in mice

October 10, 2008

Researchers have identified stem cells with the capacity to build fat, according to a report in the October 17th issue of the journal Cell, a Cell Press publication. Although they have yet to show that the cells can renew ...

Researchers reveal one reason why fat cells fail

October 4, 2011

Yale University researchers have found one of the mechanisms that cause fat cells to lose their ability to efficiently store and use energy -- a scientific mystery and a phenomenon that contributes to a major public health ...

Not all fat is packaged the same way, researchers find

February 15, 2013

Fat is stored in the body in two distinct ways, Yale researchers have discovered. While the finding may not help people shed excess pounds, it may shed light on how to prevent health problems associated with weight gain.

Recommended for you

Basic research fuels advanced discovery

August 26, 2016

Clinical trials and translational medicine have certainly given people hope and rapid pathways to cures for some of mankind's most troublesome diseases, but now is not the time to overlook the power of basic research, says ...

New method creates endless supply of kidney precursor cells

August 25, 2016

Salk Institute scientists have discovered the holy grail of endless youthfulness—at least when it comes to one type of human kidney precursor cell. Previous attempts to maintain cultures of the so-called nephron progenitor ...

New avenue for understanding cause of common diseases

August 25, 2016

A ground-breaking Auckland study could lead to discoveries about many common diseases such as diabetes, cancer and dementia. The new finding could also illuminate the broader role of the enigmatic mitochondria in human development.

Strict diet combats rare progeria aging disorders

August 25, 2016

Mice with a severe aging disease live three times longer if they eat thirty percent less. Moreover, they age much healthier than mice that eat as much as they want. These are findings of a joint study being published today ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.