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Dynamics of fat cell turnover in humans


  • Kirsty L. Spalding

    (Karolinska Institute)

  • Erik Arner

    (Karolinska Institute)

  • Pål O. Westermark

    (Institute for Theoretical Biology (ITB), Humboldt University Berlin and Charité, Invalidenstrasse 43, 10115 Berlin, Germany)

  • Samuel Bernard

    (Institute of Applied and Computational Mathematics, Foundation of Research and Technology)

  • Bruce A. Buchholz

    (Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, 7000 East Avenue, L-397, Livermore, California 94551, USA)

  • Olaf Bergmann

    (Karolinska Institute)

  • Lennart Blomqvist

    (Karolinska University Hospital)

  • Johan Hoffstedt

    (Karolinska University Hospital)

  • Erik Näslund

    (Danderyds Hospital, Karolinska Institutet)

  • Tom Britton

    (Stockholm University)

  • Hernan Concha

    (Karolinska University Hospital)

  • Moustapha Hassan

    (Karolinska University Hospital)

  • Mikael Rydén

    (Karolinska University Hospital)

  • Jonas Frisén

    (Karolinska Institute)

  • Peter Arner

    (Karolinska University Hospital)


Obesity: Fat cell numbers are for life The storage of lipids in pre-existing fat cells is thought to be a major factor in obesity, but beyond that it is not known for certain when in life adipocytes are generated and whether alterations in this process may contribute to obesity. Now a survey of total adipocyte numbers in hundreds of individuals, combined with analysis of the integration of carbon-14 derived from nuclear bomb tests into genomic DNA, has provided a clear picture of metabolism of adipose tissues. The number of fat cells in the body is a major determinant for fat mass in adults, but that number is set during childhood and adolescence and hardly varies during adulthood. Surprisingly, there is a remarkably high turnover of adipocytes within a constant total population. Neither adipocyte death nor generation rate alters during early onset obesity. This newly discovered phenomenon of adipocyte turnover could provide a new target for therapeutic intervention in obesity.

Suggested Citation

  • Kirsty L. Spalding & Erik Arner & Pål O. Westermark & Samuel Bernard & Bruce A. Buchholz & Olaf Bergmann & Lennart Blomqvist & Johan Hoffstedt & Erik Näslund & Tom Britton & Hernan Concha & Moustapha , 2008. "Dynamics of fat cell turnover in humans," Nature, Nature, vol. 453(7196), pages 783-787, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:nat:nature:v:453:y:2008:i:7196:d:10.1038_nature06902
    DOI: 10.1038/nature06902

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    Cited by:

    1. Clark, Andrew E. & Etilé, Fabrice, 2011. "Happy house: Spousal weight and individual well-being," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 1124-1136.
    2. Jennifer MacKellar & Samuel W Cushman & Vipul Periwal, 2010. "Waves of Adipose Tissue Growth in the Genetically Obese Zucker Fatty Rat," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 5(1), pages 1-9, January.
    3. Shao-Chin Wu & Yuan-Ming Lo & Jui-Hao Lee & Chin-Yau Chen & Tung-Wei Chen & Hong-Wen Liu & Wei-Nan Lian & Kate Hua & Chen-Chung Liao & Wei-Ju Lin & Chih-Yung Yang & Chien-Yi Tung & Chi-Hung Lin, 2022. "Stomatin modulates adipogenesis through the ERK pathway and regulates fatty acid uptake and lipid droplet growth," Nature Communications, Nature, vol. 13(1), pages 1-17, December.
    4. Nur Zuliani Ramli & Kok-Yong Chin & Khairul Anwar Zarkasi & Fairus Ahmad, 2019. "The Beneficial Effects of Stingless Bee Honey from Heterotrigona itama against Metabolic Changes in Rats Fed with High-Carbohydrate and High-Fat Diet," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 16(24), pages 1-17, December.
    5. Sang Mun Han & Eun Seo Park & Jeu Park & Hahn Nahmgoong & Yoon Ha Choi & Jiyoung Oh & Kyung Min Yim & Won Taek Lee & Yun Kyung Lee & Yong Geun Jeon & Kyung Cheul Shin & Jin Young Huh & Sung Hee Choi &, 2023. "Unique adipose tissue invariant natural killer T cell subpopulations control adipocyte turnover in mice," Nature Communications, Nature, vol. 14(1), pages 1-17, December.
    6. Liam McAllan & Damir Baranasic & Sergio Villicaña & Scarlett Brown & Weihua Zhang & Benjamin Lehne & Marco Adamo & Andrew Jenkinson & Mohamed Elkalaawy & Borzoueh Mohammadi & Majid Hashemi & Nadia Fer, 2023. "Integrative genomic analyses in adipocytes implicate DNA methylation in human obesity and diabetes," Nature Communications, Nature, vol. 14(1), pages 1-20, December.
    7. Belot, Michèle & James, Jonathan, 2022. "Incentivizing dietary choices among children: Review of experimental evidence," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 111(C).
    8. Wei Perng & Mercedes Mora-Plazas & Constanza Marín & Laura S Rozek & Ana Baylin & Eduardo Villamor, 2013. "A Prospective Study of LINE-1DNA Methylation and Development of Adiposity in School-Age Children," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 8(4), pages 1-7, April.

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