COLUMBUS, Ohio Just what causes the birth of a human fat cell is a mystery, but scientists using mathematics to tackle the question have come up with a few predictions about the proteins that influence this process.
The research is intended to increase understanding of how and why preadipocytes, or pre-fat cells, either lie dormant, copy themselves or turn into fat. But the findings eventually could lead to a way to freeze these early cells in their current state before they can ever become the basis of fat tissue, according to Ohio State University researchers.
Every human body needs fat to store and produce energy, but in excess, the tissue made up of fat cells begins to secrete molecules that send out complicated signals. This process can lead to inflammation and, in turn, to insulin resistance or diabetes, and contributes to the development of other diseases.
The scientists focused on three proteins that are known to have an impact on the fate of preadipocytes one protein that influences inflammation; another that drives the creation of fat cells; and a third that is involved in the proliferation, or copying, of almost all cells in the body.
A series of differential equations determined how the complex interactions among these three proteins would likely affect what happens to pre-fat cells, including conditions most associated with quiescence, or keeping those preadipocytes from turning into fat.
A better appreciation of this process could help researchers more fully understand the causes of disorders associated with excess fat, including obesity and insulin resistance.
"A potential benefit of figuring out this process is to see how we could manipulate certain parameters to arrest cells in this quiescent region, and that could have an effect on obesity," said Huseyin Coskun, a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics at Ohio State and lead author of the study.
|Contact: Huseyin Coskun|
Ohio State University