MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Philipp E. Scherer, PhD
Professor, Department of Internal Medicine
Director, Touchstone Diabetes Center
The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Dallas, TX 75390-8549
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?
Dr. Scherer: This is the first study that tracks the emergence of new fat cells in response to various physiological stimuli, such as high fat diet and cold exposure.
MedicalResearch.com: Were any of the findings unexpected?
Dr. Scherer: A long disputed question was whether cold-induced “beige” fat cells for which there is also ample evidence in humans are arising from pre-existing white fat cells or are newly differentiated cells that are recruited due to cold exposure. This model has shown unambiguously that under these conditions, beige cells emerge as newly differentiated fat cells and or not merely revamped pre-existing fat cells.
MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from this study?
Dr. Scherer: We do not know how well these findings in rodents will translate to human physiology. However, in many respects, the behavior of fat cells in rodents faithfully recapitulated the clinical situation. Since these experiments cannot be performed with human fat tissue, this is the first and perhaps only glimpse into this process that we can obtain. Previous methods that critically relied on incorporation of radioactive isotopes from environmental sources assume that cell division is a mandatory component of fat cell differentiation, and assumption that is not necessarily warranted.
MedicalResearch.com: What further research do you recommend as a result of your study?
Dr. Scherer: We can now look into a host of additional conditions under which it is not clear what the origin of fat cells is, such as involution at the end of lactation, more refined developmental studies or sexually dimorphic behavior.