Health Watch - The Science of Weight: New Fat Cells

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This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about the science behind weight — why we get fat and what effect that has on the body. When we eat too many calories, we gain fat. That can make our existing fat cells bigger, but it also can spur the development of new fat cells.

Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center discovered that immature fat cells live in the walls of blood vessels that supply fatty tissue. Normally, these replace fat cells that die off as part of normal body processes, but when they sense excess calories, they can leave the blood vessel walls and mature into fat cells. Dr. Jonathan Graff, a UT Southwestern molecular biologist, says this discovery could lead to new ways to fight obesity, and it could also help in other ways, such as in reconstructive surgery. Immature fat cells could be relocated to areas that need new fat cells, such as in a breast after a lumpectomy.

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October 2009


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