A new paradigm for the understanding of obesity: the role of stem cells

Arch Physiol Biochem. 2011 Jul;117(3):188-94. doi: 10.3109/13813455.2011.571700. Epub 2011 May 6.


Obesity is a pandemic disorder that can be defined as a chronic excess of adipose tissue that increases the risk of suffering chronic diseases such as, diabetes, arterial hypertension, stroke and some forms of cancer. We now know that adipose tissue, aside from being an energy store, is also an important endocrine and metabolic organ. Recently, new mechanisms that control obesity have been identified, such as the equilibrium between white and brown adipose tissue, the localization of adipose mass (visceral or ventral), and the presence of adipose and mesenchymal stem cells. In this review, we describe the implication of these stem cell types in the normal physiology and dysfunction of adipose tissue. These stem cells provide a potential target for modulating the response of the body to obesity and diabetes, as well as a potential tool for regenerative medicine.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / cytology
  • Adipose Tissue / physiology
  • Adipose Tissue / physiopathology
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Obesity / pathology
  • Obesity / physiopathology*