Studying origins and heterogeneity of adipose tissue: a novel way of understanding aetiology of obesity

Studying origins and heterogeneity of adipose tissue: a novel way of understanding aetiology of obesity

 

Despite the increased interest of preventing obesity, we know little about the origin(s) of adipose tissue. The majority of adipose tissue in our body is made up of white adipose tissue (WAT), which can be further divided into subcutaneous and visceral WAT. Increases in visceral WAT is associated with higher risks of cardiovascular diseases, type II diabetes, and hypertension while increases in subcutaneous WAT are often benign. Adipose tissue exists as individual ‘depots’ and it is known that they differ in the timing that they first appear in our body, as well as their cellular composition, gene expression profiles, and perhaps function(s). Our previous work, published in Nature Cell Biology, demonstrates that subcutaneous and visceral WAT differ in their developmental origins (Fig 2  and Fig 3), and we identified mesothelium as one novel source of visceral adipose tissue (Fig 1). We are now building on this ground-breaking finding by further addressing the significance of adipose origin(s) and heterogeneity on adipose tissue development, homeostasis, and responses under diseased conditions.

 

Fig 1. Mesothelium covering the surface of visceral organs is one source of visceral WAT.

Fig 2. An ex vivo model of mesothelium/epididymal appendage differentiation

into adipocytes

 

 

 

Fig 3. Summary of developmental origin(s) of adipose tissue.

 

 

Principal investigator: You-Ying Chau