Maturation and degeneration of the fat body in the Drosophila larva and pupa as revealed by morphometric analysis

Tissue Cell. 1988;20(2):255-68. doi: 10.1016/0040-8166(88)90047-x.


Using morphometric and cytochemical techniques we have described changes taking place in the fat body cells during three different stages of development. The cell number remains constant at about 2200 cells during larval life and then decreases gradually and continuously throughout metamorphosis and the first 3 days of the adult stage until no more cells can be observed. Cell size increases rapidly during the larval period and decreases steadily during metamorphosis and adult stage. The size of the nuclei increases during the larval instars and decreases during the pupal interval. The change in nuclear size is correlated with the amount of DNA present throughout development implying the nuclear DNA is synthesized during the larval period and degraded gradually during metamorphosis. The cell size changes are due in large part to accumulation or loss of reserve substances: lipid droplets, glycogen deposits and protein granules. During metamorphosis the amount of lipid decreases slightly whereas glycogen experiences two loss cycles. The protein granules in the form of lysosomes continue to increase in amount during the first day of metamorphosis because of a short period of massive autophagy. Then the lysosomes decrease in amount throughout the remainder of metamorphosis. The lysosomes stain positively for lipofuscin.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Autophagy
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Nucleus
  • Cell Survival
  • Cytophotometry
  • DNA / analysis
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism*
  • Fat Body / analysis
  • Fat Body / cytology
  • Fat Body / metabolism*
  • Larva / metabolism
  • Lipofuscin / analysis
  • Morphogenesis
  • Pupa / metabolism


  • Lipofuscin
  • DNA