JUN 20, 2018 5:38 PM PDT

Some Cells can Suppress Fat Formation

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

Obesity is connected to a variety of health problems, and scientists have long wanted to know exactly how fat cells, called adipocytes, are formed. Fat deposits are unstructured and full of different kinds of cells that confound the understanding of adipogenesis, in which precursor cells give rise to mature fat cells. A new study by research groups in the lab of Bart Deplancke's lab at École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Christian Wolfrum at ETHZ, and Gianni Soldati, who leads the Swiss Stem Cell Foundation, has now overcome the technical challenges to characterize the types of cells within fat deposits. They identified a new type of cell that appears to suppress fat cell formation.

Two different aspects of fat: left, mature human fat cells grown in a Petri dish (green: lipid droplets); right, a section of mouse fat tissue with in the middle, a blood vessel (red circle) surrounded by Aregs (arrows), newly discovered cells capable of suppressing adipogenesis. CREDIT Bart Deplancke/EPFL

"Controlling fat cell formation is not only important for improving metabolic health," said Deplancke. "It could also be important for slowing aging, since several tissues, such as bone marrow and muscle, accumulate fat cells over time, which negatively affects their function. Our discovery has, therefore, widespread biomedical implications and we cannot wait to learn more about these intriguing cells."

In this study, which was reported in Nature, the researchers performed single-cell transcriptomics (get an explanation of the technique from Bart Deplancke in the video below). That allowed that to learn about every gene that was active in one cell at a given time, like a snapshot of genetic activity. Cells that are similar will also have similar patterns of gene expression, and that enabled the scientists to classify the various types of cells in adipose tissue.

Several populations of cells were found in fat deposits in mice. Those subpopulations were then further characterized after the researchers isolated them. One type of cell did not differentiate into adipocytes and was found to actually suppress the adipogenesis of other cells. The team called that group the Aregs: adipogenesis-regulatory cells.

The investigators followed up on this finding in humans. There they found another, parallel population of cells that acted to suppress adipogenesis. They are hopeful that the mechanisms of the adipogenesis-suppressing human cells could be harnessed for therapeutic applications.

"Our work shows that there are still many human cell types that await discovery," says Christian Wolfrum. "Several of these may be very important also for medical reasons such as the Aregs that we found in this study."


Sources: AAAS/Eurekalert! Via EPFL, Nature

About the Author
BS
Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
SEP 23, 2022
Genetics & Genomics
Modern Humans Make More Neurons Than Neanderthals
SEP 23, 2022
Modern Humans Make More Neurons Than Neanderthals
Scientists have been searching for an answer to the question of what makes us human for decades. Many have looked to our ...
OCT 02, 2022
Cell & Molecular Biology
In Some Animals, Early Movements Can Have a Big Impact
OCT 02, 2022
In Some Animals, Early Movements Can Have a Big Impact
The Ikmi group at EMBL has shown that exercise has an important influence on the sea anemone.
OCT 07, 2022
Genetics & Genomics
Epigenetic Marks Can Pass Down to Multiple Generations
OCT 07, 2022
Epigenetic Marks Can Pass Down to Multiple Generations
The earliest studies of genetic inheritance were very straightforward - Gregor Mendel documented the passage of certain ...
OCT 17, 2022
Cell & Molecular Biology
Some Highly Repetitive Protein Sequences are Shared by Many Species
OCT 17, 2022
Some Highly Repetitive Protein Sequences are Shared by Many Species
Gene sequences are made up of nucleotide bases, which are 'read' by the cell's machinery in triplets; three ...
OCT 27, 2022
Genetics & Genomics
Creating a Gene Therapy to Treat an Iron Storage Disorder
OCT 27, 2022
Creating a Gene Therapy to Treat an Iron Storage Disorder
Hereditary hemochromatosis (HH) is caused by genetic mutations that lead to the abnormal accumulation of iron in differe ...
NOV 26, 2022
Neuroscience
A Crucial Enzyme Seems to Switch Off Randomly, Defying Previous Expectations
NOV 26, 2022
A Crucial Enzyme Seems to Switch Off Randomly, Defying Previous Expectations
A crucial enzyme in the mammalian brain seems to randomly switch on and off, according to new research reported in Natur ...
Loading Comments...