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Concept: Adipocyte


Brown adipose tissue (BAT) has attracted considerable research interest because of its therapeutic potential to treat obesity and associated metabolic diseases. Augmentation of brown fat mass and/or its function may represent an attractive strategy to enhance energy expenditure. Using high-throughput phenotypic screening to induce brown adipocyte reprogramming in committed myoblasts, we identified a retinoid X receptor (RXR) agonist, bexarotene (Bex), that efficiently converted myoblasts into brown adipocyte-like cells. Bex-treated mice exhibited enlarged BAT mass, enhanced BAT function, and a modest browning effect in subcutaneous white adipose tissue (WAT). Expression analysis showed that Bex initiated several “browning” pathways at an early stage during brown adipocyte reprogramming. Our findings suggest RXRs as new master regulators that control brown and beige fat development and activation, unlike the common adipogenic regulator PPARγ. Moreover, we demonstrated that selective RXR activation may potentially offer a therapeutic approach to manipulate brown/beige fat function in vivo.

Concepts: Protein, Metabolism, Fat, Adipose tissue, Tissues, Adipocyte, Brown adipose tissue, White adipose tissue


Subcutaneous white adipose tissue (scWAT) is the major fat depot in humans and is a central player in regulating whole body metabolism. Skin exposure to UV wavelengths from sunlight is required for Vitamin D synthesis and pigmentation, although it is plausible that longer visible wavelengths that penetrate the skin may regulate scWAT function. In this regard, we discovered a novel blue light-sensitive current in human scWAT that is mediated by melanopsin coupled to transient receptor potential canonical cation channels. This pathway is activated at physiological intensities of light that penetrate the skin on a sunny day. Daily exposure of differentiated adipocytes to blue light resulted in decreased lipid droplet size, increased basal lipolytic rate and alterations in adiponectin and leptin secretion. Our results suggest that scWAT function may be directly under the influence of ambient sunlight exposure and may have important implications for our current understanding of adipocyte biology. (150 words).

Concepts: Ultraviolet, Light, Obesity, Fat, Adipose tissue, Sunlight, Adipocyte, Visible spectrum


Calorie restriction-induced weight loss is accompanied by profound changes in adipose tissue characteristics. To determine the effect of weight loss on differentiation of preadipocytes and secretory capacity of in vitro differentiated adipocytes, we established cultures of these cells from paired subcutaneous adipose tissue biopsies obtained before and at the end of weight-reducing dietary intervention in 23 obese women. Based on lipid accumulation and the expression of differentiation markers, in vitro adipogenesis increased following weight loss and it was accompanied by enhanced expression of genes involved in de novo lipogenesis. This effect of weight loss was not driven by changes of PPAR© sensitivity to rosiglitazone. Weight loss also enhanced the expression of adiponectin and leptin while reducing that of MCP1 and IL8 by cultured adipocytes.Thus, the weight-reducing dietary intervention increased adipogenic capacity of preadipocytes and shifted their secretion towards lower inflammatory profile. Reprogramming of preadipocytes could represent an adaptation to weight loss leading to partial restoration of pre-obese adipose tissue traits, and thus contribute to the improvement of metabolic status. However, enhanced adipogenesis could also contribute to the unwanted weight regain after initial weight loss.

Concepts: DNA, Gene expression, Cancer, Obesity, Cellular differentiation, Fat, Adipose tissue, Adipocyte


Background Genomewide association studies can be used to identify disease-relevant genomic regions, but interpretation of the data is challenging. The FTO region harbors the strongest genetic association with obesity, yet the mechanistic basis of this association remains elusive. Methods We examined epigenomic data, allelic activity, motif conservation, regulator expression, and gene coexpression patterns, with the aim of dissecting the regulatory circuitry and mechanistic basis of the association between the FTO region and obesity. We validated our predictions with the use of directed perturbations in samples from patients and from mice and with endogenous CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing in samples from patients. Results Our data indicate that the FTO allele associated with obesity represses mitochondrial thermogenesis in adipocyte precursor cells in a tissue-autonomous manner. The rs1421085 T-to-C single-nucleotide variant disrupts a conserved motif for the ARID5B repressor, which leads to derepression of a potent preadipocyte enhancer and a doubling of IRX3 and IRX5 expression during early adipocyte differentiation. This results in a cell-autonomous developmental shift from energy-dissipating beige (brite) adipocytes to energy-storing white adipocytes, with a reduction in mitochondrial thermogenesis by a factor of 5, as well as an increase in lipid storage. Inhibition of Irx3 in adipose tissue in mice reduced body weight and increased energy dissipation without a change in physical activity or appetite. Knockdown of IRX3 or IRX5 in primary adipocytes from participants with the risk allele restored thermogenesis, increasing it by a factor of 7, and overexpression of these genes had the opposite effect in adipocytes from nonrisk-allele carriers. Repair of the ARID5B motif by CRISPR-Cas9 editing of rs1421085 in primary adipocytes from a patient with the risk allele restored IRX3 and IRX5 repression, activated browning expression programs, and restored thermogenesis, increasing it by a factor of 7. Conclusions Our results point to a pathway for adipocyte thermogenesis regulation involving ARID5B, rs1421085, IRX3, and IRX5, which, when manipulated, had pronounced pro-obesity and anti-obesity effects. (Funded by the German Research Center for Environmental Health and others.).

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Gene expression, Obesity, Adipose tissue, Adipocyte, Resistin


Brown and beige adipocytes are characterised as expressing the unique mitochondrial uncoupling protein (UCP)1 for which the primary stimulus in vivo is cold exposure. The extent to which cold-induced UCP1 activation can also be achieved in vitro, and therefore perform a comparable cellular function, is unknown. We report an in vitro model to induce adipocyte browning using bone marrow (BM) derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSC), which relies on differentiation at 32 °C instead of 37 °C. The low temperature promoted browning in adipogenic cultures, with increased adipocyte differentiation and upregulation of adipogenic and thermogenic factors, especially UCP1. Cells exhibited enhanced uncoupled respiration and metabolic adaptation. Cold-exposed differentiated cells showed a marked translocation of leptin to adipocyte nuclei, suggesting a previously unknown role for leptin in the browning process. These results indicate that BM-MSC can be driven to forming beige-like adipocytes in vitro by exposure to a reduced temperature. This in vitro model will provide a powerful tool to elucidate the precise role of leptin and related hormones in hitherto functions in the browning process.

Concepts: Stem cell, Mesenchymal stem cell, Bone marrow, Cellular respiration, Cytoplasm, Cellular differentiation, Adipocyte, Uncoupling protein


To assess the predictive capacity of a recently described equation that we have termed CUN-BAE (Clínica Universidad de Navarra-Body Adiposity Estimator) based on BMI, sex, and age for estimating body fat percentage (BF%) and to study its clinical usefulness.

Concepts: Nutrition, Death, Fat, Adipose tissue, Body mass index, Body fat percentage, Adipocyte, Dieting


Brown adipose tissue has gained interest as a potential target to treat obesity and metabolic diseases. Irisin is a newly identified hormone secreted from skeletal muscle enhancing browning of white fat cells, which improves systemic metabolism by increasing energy expenditure in mice. The discovery of irisin raised expectations of its therapeutic potential to treat metabolic diseases. However, the effect of irisin in humans is unclear. Analyses of genomic DNA, mRNA and expressed sequence tags revealed that FNDC5, the gene encoding the precursor of irisin, is present in rodents and most primates, but shows in humans a mutation in the conserved start codon ATG to ATA. HEK293 cells transfected with a human FNDC5 construct with ATA as start codon resulted in only 1% full-length protein compared to human FNDC5 with ATG. Additionally, in vitro contraction of primary human myotubes by electrical pulse stimulation induced a significant increase in PGC1α mRNA expression. However, FNDC5 mRNA level was not altered. FNDC5 mRNA expression in muscle biopsies from two different human exercise studies was not changed by endurance or strength training. Preadipocytes isolated from human subcutaneous adipose tissue exhibited differentiation to brite human adipocytes when incubated with bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) 7, but neither recombinant FNDC5 nor irisin were effective. In conclusion, our findings suggest that it is rather unlikely that the beneficial effect of irisin observed in mice can be translated to humans.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene expression, Metabolism, Muscle, Adipose tissue, Adipocyte, White adipose tissue


As an important factor affecting meat quality, intramuscular fat (IMF) content is a topic of worldwide concern. Emerging evidences indicate that microRNAs play important roles in adipocyte differentiation. However, miRNAome has neither been studied during porcine intramuscular preadipocyte differentiation, nor compared with subcutaneous preadipocytes. The objectives of this study were to identify porcine miRNAs involved in adipogenesis in primary preadipocytes, and to determine whether intramuscular and subcutaneous adipocytes differ in the expression and regulation of miRNAs.

Concepts: Gene expression, Mesenchymal stem cell, Cytoplasm, Cellular differentiation, Fat, Adipose tissue, Adipocyte


Gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) of 21 nm have been previously well characterized for their capacity to target macrophages via active uptake. However, the short-term impact of such AuNPs on physiological systems, in particular resident macrophages located in fat tissue , is largely unknown. This project investigated the distribution, organ toxicity and changes in inflammatory cytokines within the adipose tissue after mice were exposed to AuNPs.

Concepts: In vivo, Fat, Adipose tissue, Adipocyte, Dieting, Integumentary system, Adipokine


Activity-guided isolation of a methanolic extract of Galla Rhois using pancreatic lipase and 3T3-L1 adipocytes led to the isolation of seven phenolic compounds: protoaphin-fb (1), 2-O-digalloyl-1,3,4,6-tetra-O-galloyl-b-D-glucose (2), 1,2,3,4,6-penta-O-galloyl-b-D-glucose (3), 1,2,4,6-tetra-O-galloyl-b-D-glucose (4), 3-hydroxy-5-methoxy-phenol 1-O-b-D-glucoside (5), methylgallate (6), and gallic acid (7). Their structures were established on the basis of NMR and MS spectroscopic data interpretation. All isolates were evaluated for their inhibitory effects on pancreatic lipase, and compounds 1-5 exhibited potent inhibitory effects on this enzyme, with IC50 values ranging from 30.6 ± 2.4 to 3.5 ± 0.5 mM. In addition, the highly galloylated compound 2 was also found to induce potent inhibition of adipocyte differentiation in 3T3-L1 cells.

Concepts: Enzyme, Pancreas, Cytoplasm, Fat, Adipocyte, Lipase, Gallic acid, Pancreatic lipase