Hypertrophy-driven adipocyte death overwhelms recruitment under prolonged weight gain

Biophys J. 2010 Dec 1;99(11):3535-44. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2010.10.009.


Fat pads dynamically regulate energy storage capacity under energy excess and deficit. This remodeling process is not completely understood, with controversies regarding differences between fat depots and plasticity of adipose cell number. We examined changes of mouse adipose cell-size distributions in epididymal, inguinal, retroperitoneal, and mesenteric fat under both weight gain and loss. With mathematical modeling, we specifically analyzed the recruitment, growth/shrinkage, and loss of adipose cells, including the size dependence of these processes. We found a qualitatively universal adipose tissue remodeling process in all four fat depots: 1), There is continuous recruitment of new cells under weight gain; 2), the growth and shrinkage of larger cells (diameter >50 μm) is proportional to cell surface area; and 3), cell loss occurs under prolonged weight gain, with larger cells more susceptible. The mathematical model gives a predictive integrative picture of adipose tissue remodeling in obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / pathology*
  • Adipose Tissue / drug effects
  • Adipose Tissue / growth & development
  • Adipose Tissue / pathology
  • Animals
  • Cell Death / drug effects
  • Cell Movement*
  • Cell Size / drug effects
  • Diet
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fats / pharmacology
  • Hypertrophy
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Obesity / pathology
  • Time Factors
  • Weight Gain* / drug effects
  • Weight Loss / drug effects


  • Dietary Fats