Obesity may be impacted by stress, study says

This is an image of a weight scale. Credit: CDC/Debora Cartagena

Using experimental models, researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) showed that adenosine, a metabolite released when the body is under stress or during an inflammatory response, stops the process of adipogenesis, when adipose (fat) stem cells differentiate into adult fat cells.

Previous studies have indicated adipogenesis plays a central role in maintaining healthy fat homeostasis by properly storing fat within cells so that it does not accumulate at high levels in the bloodstream. The current findings indicate that the body's response to stress, potentially stopping the production of fat cell development, might be doing more harm than good under conditions of obesity and/or high levels of circulating .

The process is halted due to a newly identified signaling from an adenosine receptor, the A2b adenosine receptor (A2bAR) to a stem cell factor, known as KLF4, which regulates stem cell maintenance. When A2bAR is expressed, KLF4 level is augmented, leading to inhibition of differentiation of . The correlation between these two factors leads to an interruption of fat cell development, which could result in issues with within the cells and it getting into the bloodstream.

While the majority of the study was carried out in , the group also showed that A2bAR activation inhibits adipogenesis in a human primary preadipocyte culture system. Finally, analysis of of obese subjects showed a strong association between A2bAR and KLF4 expression in both subcutaneous (under the skin) and visceral (internal organ) human fat.

"It may seem counterintuitive, but our body needs fat tissue in order to function properly, and certain biochemical cellular processes are necessary for this to happen," said Katya Ravid, DSc/PhD, professor of medicine and biochemistry at BUSM and director of the Evans Center for Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research who led the study. "Our study indicates that a dysfunction resulting from stress or inflammation can disrupt the process of fat tissue development, which could have a negative impact on processes dependent on proper fat cell homeostasis."

This study is part of ongoing research interest and investigations by researchers in Ravid's lab examining the differentiation of bone marrow and tissue and the role of adenosine receptors in this process.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New source of fat tissue stem cells discovered

May 09, 2014

Researchers have found a new source of stem cells that produce fat tissue, findings presented today at the European Congress of Endocrinology in Wrocław, Poland, show. This unique in vitro human stem cell model of brown ...

Recommended for you

EU court says obesity can be disability

49 minutes ago

The European Union's highest court ruled Thursday that obesity can be considered a "disability" if it hinders the overweight person's performance at work.

When you lose weight, where does the fat go?

Dec 16, 2014

Despite a worldwide obsession with diets and fitness regimes, many health professionals cannot correctly answer the question of where body fat goes when people lose weight, a UNSW Australia study shows.

Shed post-Christmas pounds just by breathing

Dec 16, 2014

Ever wondered where the fat goes when somebody loses weight? Most of it is breathed out as carbon dioxide, making the lungs the primary excretory organ for weight loss, explain Australian researchers in the ...

Post-bariatric surgery weight loss may ease knee pain

Dec 14, 2014

(HealthDay)—Current evidence, though limited, suggests that bariatric surgery with subsequent marked weight loss may reduce knee complaints in morbidly obese adults, according to research published online ...

Poor diet links obese mothers and stunted children

Dec 11, 2014

Malnutrition is a major cause of stunted growth in children, but new UCL research on mothers and children in Egypt suggests that the problem is not just about quantity of food but also quality.

User 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.