This article has been reviewed according to Science X's editorial process and policies. Editors have highlighted the following attributes while ensuring the content's credibility:

fact-checked

peer-reviewed publication

trusted source

proofread

Scientists reveal adipocytes' metabolic role and identify treatment targets

Scientists reveal adipocyte's metabolic role and identify treatment targets
Human adipocyte with lipid droplet labeled in magenta and regulatory protein in green. Credit: Helmholtz Munich / Felix Klingelhuber

Recent research underscores the critical role of adipocytes in storing fat, vital for organismal survival. Dysfunctional adipocytes can lead to metabolic disorders like type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease, highlighting the importance of understanding lipid storage mechanisms.

A team of scientists led by Helmholtz Munich have developed a novel approach merging proteomics with machine learning to map dynamic changes during adipogenesis. This method reveals new insights into , offering potential targets for managing metabolic diseases. The work has been published in Nature Metabolism.

Unlocking the secrets of fat storage

Living organisms have evolved the remarkable ability to store energy in the form of fat, a vital adaptation crucial for survival. In periods of energy abundance, this fat is stored within specialized cells called adipocytes, ensuring a reserve for times of scarcity.

Unlike many other that struggle with lipid management and can suffer from lipid toxicity, adipocytes excel in storing significant amounts of fat. On average, a healthy adult carries between 10 to 25 kilograms of fat, primarily housed in adipose tissue, with each kilogram harboring roughly 9,000 kilocalories of energy.

However, when adipocytes malfunction, it can lead to metabolic disorders. Inefficient fat storage by adipocytes results in fat accumulation in other bodily regions, contributing to conditions such as type 2 diabetes and . Therefore, comprehending the intricate cellular mechanisms governing lipid storage in adipocytes is imperative.

Such understanding opens avenues for identifying novel pharmacological targets to regulate adipocyte function. Ultimately, this knowledge holds promise for developing innovative treatments aimed at managing and preventing associated with adipocyte dysfunction.

Mapping cellular changes in adipogenesis

Adipocytes emerge from precursor cells nestled within adipose tissue through a process called adipogenesis. Yet the intricacies of this transformation, particularly how cells restructure themselves to optimize lipid storage capabilities, have long puzzled researchers.

Pioneering a novel approach, scientists from Helmholtz Munich, the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, and the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD) have merged proteomics with machine learning to construct time-resolved cellular maps of adipogenesis.

Through this innovative method, researchers can capture snapshots of cellular dynamics, providing unprecedented insights into the remodeling of cellular compartments and, for the first time, tracking the dynamic shifts in protein localization during this process.

"We've successfully mapped previously unseen alterations in cellular architecture within fat cells as they undergo specialization for fat storage. By capturing snapshots of these cells throughout their developmental stages using proteomic techniques, we've identified novel regulators involved in both fat storage and mobilization," explains Dr. Natalie Krahmer, the lead researcher of the study.

Key proteins with obesity treatment potential

Their discoveries have revealed that a remarkable 20% of all proteins change localization, emphasizing the critical role of protein placement in cell specialization. Through their method, they have unveiled the synchronized regulation of protein levels and localization, laying the groundwork for efficient lipid storage.

Moreover, the researcher identified novel regulators of lipid storage, exposing previously unknown proteins associated with lipid droplets—the vital structures facilitating lipid storage within cells.

Interestingly, the absence of one such protein prevents cells from mobilizing stored lipids, resulting in excessive accumulation. Importantly, analysis of patient data has highlighted a correlation between reduced levels of this protein in and obesity.

This significant finding underscores the clinical relevance of the protein, suggesting its potential as a pivotal determinant of capacity to mobilize stored fat and as a promising target for the development of obesity treatments.

More information: Klingelhuber, F., et al. A spatiotemporal proteomic map of human adipogenesis. Nature Metabolism (2024). DOI: 10.1038/s42255-024-01025-8

Journal information: Nature Metabolism
Citation: Scientists reveal adipocytes' metabolic role and identify treatment targets (2024, April 2) retrieved 18 April 2024 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2024-04-scientists-reveal-adipocytes-metabolic-role.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Explore further

A new player unveiled for lipid oxidation

15 shares

Feedback to editors