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Unexpected cell population slows down fat cells

David Guertin explains how reducing adipocyte production may help fight obesity

Fat tissue has a remarkable capacity for growth

Dr. Guertin acknowledges that fat tissue can expand both by increasing the size of individual fat cells (adipocytes), and by making adipocytes from progenitor cells through the process of adipogenesis. cFat is essential for metabolic fitness, but having too much fat in the wrong places can be harmful.

Combating obesity

Obesity can lead to serious medical conditions such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.  In order to combat obesity, we must first understand how mature adipocytes develop from precursor cells.  The identity of these precursors has so far been elusive.

Exciting new data

In a News & Views article in Nature, Dr. Guertin references a recent publication which defines three populations of fat-precursor cell, one of which unexpectedly functions to suppress adipocyte production.  He describes three reasons why this new data is exciting. 

  1. Although high variation between ASPC subpopulations had been predicted, this study fills a major gap by adding molecular details to our understanding of that variability.
  2. The research used state-of-the-art technology for single-cell gene-expression profiling, allowing the identification of a regulatory cell type that would have been difficult to predict, based on previous studies. 
  3. It could encourage additional research attempting to explain the organization of adipogenesis, the hierarchy of cells that regulate the formation of fat.

What’s next?

Dr. Guertin points out that as health care costs of obesity-related conditions continue to rise, research and medical professionals must meet the challenge with breakthroughs in management and care.  This will require a better understanding of adipogenesis, and he believes that this new research has pointed to a new way of advancing knowledge in this important area.

Click Here to read the complete News & Views Article, Nature, June 20, 2018