Ziru Li, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow (MacDougald Laboratory), Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, University of Michigan Medical School
These microscopic images show adipose tissues (fat) from different parts of the body. With the dramatically increasing prevalence of obesity and diabetes, the detrimental effects of adipose tissue (fat) are commonly known. In fact, adipose tissue is actually a beautifully organized and intricately connected network of cells with many physiological functions. The commonly recognized role of adipose tissue is energy storage. Importantly, it also serves as an endocrine organ that releases chemical messengers called “adipokines.” These chemical messengers travel to different parts of the body and regulate metabolic functions, such as appetite, immunity, insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, lipid metabolism, and new blood vessel formation. There is still much to discover about the mechanisms underlying these diverse functions. Unraveling the mysteries of adipose tissue development and function will provide vital clues in the search for a cure for obesity and its complications.