Adipose Tissue: Adipocytes

Adipose tissue, better known as fat, is much more than a simple energy reservoir in our body. Future physicians must understand the various forms it takes and its impact on health and disease. One of the most important aspects is the difference between white and brown adipose tissue. White adipose tissue, the most common type, is primarily stored around organs and under the skin, with its main function being to store energy and insulate the body from cold. On the other hand, brown adipose tissue, although less abundant, is metabolically more active, as its primary function is to generate heat by burning fat, which may be relevant in regulating body weight and resistance to obesity. However, we must not forget beige adipose tissue, which is a specialized type of fat that can change its function to burn calories and generate heat, especially in response to cold and certain hormonal stimuli. This capacity for “beige-ing” is crucial in regulating body weight and metabolism in the body.

Adipose tissue cells
In addition to these basic differences, we are beginning to better understand the role of adipose tissue in hormone regulation and the development of metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular diseases. Recent studies have shown that adipose tissue is not just a passive depot of fat but an active endocrine organ that secretes a variety of molecules, known as adipokines, which can influence inflammation, insulin resistance, and other physiological processes. Furthermore, brown adipose tissue has a protective effect against cancer, as it reduces the nutrients needed for cancer cells to proliferate, such as glucose.
This deeper understanding of the differences in adipose tissue allows us to more precisely and effectively address diseases related to obesity and metabolism, opening up new avenues for research and treatment in modern medicine.

By Juan Molto, Marta Navarrete and Silvia Santoja


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