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Fat cell numbers fixed in adults

The number of linkurl:fat cells;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/54033/ in a person's body is determined during childhood and stays constant throughout life, with about 10 percent of fat cells dying and being replaced annually, according to study published in __Nature__ yesterday (May 4). Understanding the hitherto poorly characterized dynamics of fat cell production and turnover may help researchers target key processes in obesity and related diseases, such as diabetes. "We are ge

By | May 5, 2008

The number of linkurl:fat cells;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/54033/ in a person's body is determined during childhood and stays constant throughout life, with about 10 percent of fat cells dying and being replaced annually, according to study published in __Nature__ yesterday (May 4). Understanding the hitherto poorly characterized dynamics of fat cell production and turnover may help researchers target key processes in obesity and related diseases, such as diabetes. "We are generating quite a few fat cells," said linkurl:Kirsty Spalding,;http://www.narsad.org/research/grantee_lists/bios/yi2007spalding.html a biologist at Sweden's Karolinska Institute and first author on the study, "but it seems to be really tightly regulated." Spalding said that both the expansion of the fat cell population and the arrival at what will be the final number of fat cells, or linkurl:adipocytes,;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/daily/23356/ in the adult body occur at an earlier age in obese people. Fatter people experience a period of rapid adipoctye production around age two and reach their adult number of fat cells when they are about 16.5 years old, she said. Lean people, however, recruit fat cells most rapidly at about age six, with their fat cell population reaching its adult size at about 18.5 years old. "The expansion is definitely going on at an earlier age in obese children and at an increased rate," Spalding said. The team of mostly Swedish researchers employed several methods to characterize adipoctye dynamics in the human body. To study how fat cell numbers differ in heftier or lighter people, Spalding and her team examined fat biopsies from about 680 lean and obese Swedish people. They found obese people can have as much as twice the number of adipocytes as do lean people. The researchers also followed 20 gastric bypass patients who lost weight after their operations. Over the course of two years, their fat cells shrunk in size, but the total number stayed constant. To characterize the turnover of fat cells in adults, Spalding used a linkurl:^14^C dating method;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/15802/ she developed. The researchers measured the radioactive signature in the DNA of fat cells, and modeled adipocyte death and replacement by comparing fat samples from 35 adult liposuction or reconstructive surgery patients to existing ^14^C data gathered from children. Spalding said that knowing about the turnover of fat cells could help develop future obesity treatments. She cautioned, however, that dramatic weight reduction will not result solely from some "magic pill," and will likely require reduced calorie intake and exercise. She next plans to elucidate fat cell population dynamics in people who are lean as children and becomes obese adults; a scenario not explored in her study. "I would imagine that they're going to have an increase in [adipoctye] number, but having said that, it seems to be extremely tightly regulated," she said. "It's really an open question."
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Comments

Avatar of: THOMAS BALON

THOMAS BALON

Posts: 13

May 5, 2008

Hasn't this been known for quite some time?
Avatar of: Forrest Nelson

Forrest Nelson

Posts: 1

May 5, 2008

I don't believe it. Was 168 pounds at 19, 300 at age 60.
Avatar of: null null

null null

Posts: 7

May 5, 2008

Yes, I´m quite sure they told us something like this at medical school ... which should be more than 15 years ago. It´s good to know they did not lie us.
Avatar of: Bob Grant

Bob Grant

Posts: 22

May 5, 2008

Thanks very much for your question, Mr. Balon.\n\nYou are right that scientists have known for some time that weight gain or loss represents fat cells increasing or decreasing in volume rather than recruiting or losing cells. This study presents a new look at how the human body goes about maintaining the same number of fat cells throughout a person's life. Much remains to be learned about this process, but this is a first step.
Avatar of: Richard Erickson

Richard Erickson

Posts: 1

May 5, 2008

In my humble opinion, Hypertrophy is well established. However, as atipose tissue reaches its total volume growth and excess energy is continually supplied some form of hyperplasia must occur to handle the storage no matter what the age. My research indicates what I call Stress Altered Adipose Disorder. the body protecting itself from stressors humans have not yet adapted.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 3

May 29, 2008

While fat cell numbers are likely static in the normal human there may be treatments that can induce apoptosis in adipose tissue. I have seen a paper or two that suggest leptin induces both lipolysis and apoptosis in vivo in WAT. The papers weren't great but they leave the door open for this possibility.\n\nLet's just hope we can find a way to pharmacologically kill some fat cells and of course have no side effects! :)
Avatar of: Reuben Driggers

Reuben Driggers

Posts: 2

November 15, 2008

i've read that people who have liposuction on their midsections, and don't manage their diet to stay at the new lower weight, have seen the volume of fat on their backs increase?\n\ni'm just a lay person here, but i've always thought it strange that number of fats cells couldn't vary. i mean, isn't there a limitation to the size a fat cell can grow? is it mathematically possible for someone to be 120lbs and then grow to 240 (common in my experience) or even more. i guess one must know the average number of fixed fats cells and the min/max volume of a fat cell???\n\nmore and more evidence is dispelling the belief that brain cells cannot regenerate or grow anew\n\nwould appreciate any thoughts...thanks!
Avatar of: Reuben Driggers

Reuben Driggers

Posts: 2

November 16, 2008

"Hypertrophic obesity results in an increase in the size of the fat cells, without a change in their number. It is usually a post-adolescent phenomenon, and holds true until total body fat exceeds 40 kg (morbid obesity - greater than 200% ideal body weight), at which point new fat cells are produced to accommodate the enlarging lipid reserves."\ncredit: Yale Medical Core Curriculum

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Mettler Toledo
BD Biosciences
BD Biosciences