Biochemical and physiological characteristics of fat cell

T Kawada, N Takahashi, T Fushiki
Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology 2001, 47 (1): 1-12
Since animals are under constant threat of starvation, storage of energy sources inside the body is essential for various activities. Therefore, animals exhibit highly sophisticated mechanisms for storing energy inside their bodies in adipose tissue. However, in humans it has been clarified that fat cell (adipocyte, which comprises adipose tissues) differentiation and the extent of subsequent fat accumulation (hypertrophy of cells) are closely associated with the occurrence and advancement of various diseases resulting from obesity. Moreover, progress in biochemical studies with respect to adipocyte in recent years has rapidly clarified new functions and differentiation mechanisms of adipocytes. Interesting points, in particular, are the function of white adipocytes as "secreting cells" and the molecular mechanism of adipocyte differentiation via the nuclear receptors. Consequently, adipose tissue is being targeted to prevent or treat many common diseases. This paper summarizes recent knowledge on characteristics, differentiation and proliferation of adipocytes and the mechanisms by which adipocytes are regulated.

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