Obesity is increasing in an epidemic manner in most countries and constitutes a public health problem by enhancing the risk for diseases such as diabetes, fatty liver disease and atherosclerosis. Together these diseases form a cluster referred to as the metabolic syndrome. Despite the negative health consequences associated with excess adipose tissue, very little is known about the origin and maintenance of white adipose tissue in man. In this review we discuss what is known about the turnover of adult human adipocytes and their precursors, as well as adipose tissue heterogeneity, plasticity and developmental origins. The focus of this review is human tissue, however in many cases human data are missing and are inferred from animal studies. As such, reference to animal studies are made where human data is not available. This article is part of a directed issue entitled: Regenerative Medicine: the challenge of translation.
Keywords: Adipocyte progenitors; Adipocyte turnover; Adipocytes; Obesity; Preadipocytes.
Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.