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Development, activation, and therapeutic potential of thermogenic adipocytes

Emont, Margo P., Kim, Dong-il, Wu, Jun
Biochimica et biophysica acta 2019 v.1864 no.1 pp. 13-19
adipocytes, biochemical pathways, cell lines, energy, heat, humans, metabolism, therapeutics, transcription (genetics)
During the last decade, significant progress has been made in understanding adipocytes with a particular focus on thermogenic fat cells, which effectively convert chemical energy into heat in addition to their other metabolic functions. It has been increasingly recognized that different types and subtypes of adipocytes exist and the developmental origins of various types of fat cells are being intensively investigated. Previous work using immortalized fat cell lines has established an intricate transcriptional network that regulates adipocyte function. Recent work has illustrated how these key transcriptional components mediate thermogenic activation in fat cells. Last but not least, cumulative evidence supports an incontestable role of thermogenic fat in influencing systemic metabolism in humans. Here we summarize the exciting advancements in our understanding of thermogenic fat, discuss the advantages and limitations of the experimental tools currently available, and explore the future directions of this fast-evolving field.