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Adipocyte. 2017 Jul 3;6(3):187-192. doi: 10.1080/21623945.2017.1306158. Epub 2017 Mar 15.

The contribution of bone marrow-derived cells to the human adipocyte pool.

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  • 1a Karolinska Institutet , Department of Medicine (H7) , Karolinska University Hospital , Huddinge , Stockholm , Sweden.


White adipose tissue is a remarkably expandable organ with results in the last decade showing that human white adipocytes are continuously turned over during the entire life-span. Data primarily in murine models have demonstrated that adipocytes are derived from precursors present mainly in the perivascular areas of adipose tissue but their precise origin remains unclear. Subsets of cells present in bone marrow display a multipotent differentiation capacity which has prompted the hypothesis that bone marrow-derived cells (BMDCs) may also contribute to the adipocyte pool present in peripheral fat depots. This notion was initially demonstrated in a murine transplantation model, however, subsequent animal studies have been conflicting resulting in a debate of whether BMDCs actually differentiate into adipocytes or just fuse with resident fat cells. This controversy was recently resolved in 2 studies of human subjects undergoing bone marrow transplantation. Using a combination of different assays these data suggest that bone marrow contributes to at least 10% of the adipocyte pool. This proportion is doubled in obesity, suggesting that BMDCs may constitute a reserve pool for adipogenesis, particularly upon weight gain. This review discusses the possible mechanisms and relevance of these findings for human pathophysiology.


adipogenesis; obesity; stem cells

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