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Adipogenesis is the process of cell differentiation by which pre-adipocytes become adipocytes (lipocytes, fat cells). Adipogenesis has been one of the most intensively studied models of cellular differentiation.

Differentiated Adipocyte stained with Oil Red O


Adipocytes play a vital role in energy homeostasis and process the largest energy reserve as triglycerol in the body of animals.[1] Adipocytes stay in a dynamic state, they start expanding when the energy intake is higher than the expenditure and undergo mobilization when the energy expenditure exceeds the intake. This process is highly regulated by counter regulatory hormones to which these cells are very sensitive. The hormone insulin promotes expansion whereas the counter hormones epinephrine, glucagon, and ACTH promote mobilization. Adipogenesis is a tightly regulated cellular differentiation process, in which the preadipocytes are transformed into differentiated adipocyte cells. Comparing with cells from other lineage, the in vitro differentiation of fat cells is authentic and recapitulates most of the characteristic feature of in vivo adipogenesis. The key features of differentiated adipocytes are morphological change, growth arrest, high expression of lipogenic genes and production of hormones like leptin, resistin (in the mouse, not in humans) and TNF-alpha.

Models of differentiation[edit]

In vitro[edit]

The transition of the fibroblast cells to mature adipocytes is one of the best characterized processes of cellular differentiation.[2] Primary preadipose cells can be isolated from the stromal vascular fraction of adipose tissue; and when treated in cell culture with a combination of adipogenic effectors, they can differentiate into adipocytes.[3]

Cell Line Origin Differentiation Protocol
Committed Pre-adipocytes
3T3-L1 Sub-clone of Swiss 3T3[4] FBS+ I+ D+ M
3T3-F442A Sub-clone of Swiss 3T3[5] FBS + I
Ob17 Differentiated adipocyte from epididymal fat pad of C57BL/6J ob/ob mice[6] FBS+ I+ T3
TA1 Subclone of C3H10T1/2 [7] FBS + D + I
30A5 Subclone of C3H10T1/2[8] FBS + D + M + I
1246 Adipogenic Subclone of CH3 mouse teratocarcinoma cell line T984[9] D + M + I
Non-committed with adipogenic potential
NIH3T3 NIH Swiss mouse embryo cells[10] Ectopic expression of PPAR-gamma, C/EBP-alpha or C/EBP-beta + D+ M+ I
Swiss 3T3 Swiss mouse embryo cells[11] Ectopic expression of C/EBP-alpha
Balb/3T3 Balb/c mouse embryo cells[12] Ectopic expression of C/EBP-alpha
C3H 10T1/2 C3H mouse embryo cells[13] PPAR-gamma ligand
Kusa 4b10 mouse bone marrow stromal cell line[14] FBS + I + D + M
C2C12 Thigh muscles of C3H mice[15] Thiazolidinediones
G8 Hind limb muscles of fetal Swiss webster mouse[16] Ectopic expression of PPAR-gamma + CEBP/alpha +D + I
FBS = Fetal Bovine Serum, D = Dexamethasone, I = Insulin, M = Methylisobutylxanthine T3 = Triiodothyronine

Hormonal regulation[edit]

Endocrine factors[edit]

Products of endocrine system such as insulin, IGF-1, cAMP, glucocorticoid,and triiodothyronine effectively induce adipogenesis in preadipocytes.[17][18][19]


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