How Fat Cells Reduce Lipid Metabolism with Age?

Sunday, June 28, 2020 - 12:08

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have been able to conduct a prospective study on humans that provides novel insights into how our fat cells reduce lipid metabolism with age.

According to the Medical Xpress report, age-induced changes in human fat metabolism operate differently. Instead of macrophages, which are a type of immune cell, it is the fat cells themselves that degrade noradrenaline with age.

Based on the research which its results published in the journal Cell Metabolism, Mikael Rydén, senior consultant and professor of clinical and experimental adipose tissue research at Karolinska Institutet and one of the paper's senior authors stated that "We were surprised to see this difference between animals and humans."

"The earlier mouse studies are correct, but it's been hard to do similar work on humans as you need prospective studies that track the same people over time," he added.

"Our findings provide the first insights into the changes in adipose tissue that are controlled by biological age in humans," explains Rydén. "What we find is that lipolysis in the adipose tissue declines over time. These changes also seem to be independent of menopause or pregnancy. They are simply the result of aging."

A lower rate of lipolysis can contribute to weight gain and the accumulation of fat in other tissue. Atherosclerosis can be a result of this process, for instance, as well as changes in the ability of the body to deal with cold and hunger. The results of the study are also interesting from a public health perspective with respect to obesity—a growing problem that leaves people susceptible to many diseases.

"It was once thought that the fat cell was fairly inactive, but we suspect that it's active and controls a lot more than previously thought," says Niklas Mejhert, co-senior author of the paper and joint group leader with Rydén at the Department of Medicine, Huddinge, Karolinska Institutet. "If we can regulate the accumulation of fat in a more controlled way, it could bring huge advantages."

"We now plan to examine how different cells within the fat tissue are affected by age," continues Rydén. "This is particularly interesting when it comes to stem cells, which have the unique and important ability to renew themselves and repair injury. It's something we're keen to follow up on."

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