Scientists Discovered New Cell Type That Control the Formation of Fat

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Scientists discovered new cell type that is capable of controlling the formation of fat, according to a report published on June 20, 2018.

From earlier studies, adipogenesis, which is the formation of mature fat cells from their precursor cells, has been linked to obesity and other health problems. However, it has been difficult to determine the identity and molecular properties of fat cell precursors.

In this study, a high-resolution technique called ‘single cell transcriptomics’ was used by the scientists from Bart Deplancke’s lab at EPFL, Christian Wolfrum’s lab at ETHZ, and the Swiss Stem Cell Foundation led by Gianni Soldati, to characterize various types of stromal cells that reside within mature fat depots.

This approach helped the scientists to identify several stromal cell subpopulations in the fat tissue of mice. Moreover, the subpopulations were then isolated by the scientists to study its cellular behavior. The results of the study showed that one of these subpopulations failed to differentiate into adipocytes and it also actively suppressed adipogenesis of other adipocyte precursor cells through a secretory mechanism. Therefore, it was named as ‘Aregs’ by the researchers.

Furthermore, human fat was examined by the scientists and they found the presence of an analogous adipogenesis-suppressing cell population. This gave the hope that Aregs can be harnessed to modulate the plasticity of human adipose tissue. In the future, this study might help in controlling obesity and insulin sensitivity and thus treating metabolic diseases including type-2 diabetes.

Bart Deplancke said, “Controlling fat cell formation is not only important for improving metabolic health. 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.”

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