What Happens to Adipose Cells in Obesity

What happens to adipose cells in obesity? Obesity leads to adipose tissue dysfunction, inducing the release of proinflammatory adipokines. These adipokines also act on cardiovascular tissue to promote disease.

Obesity is always linked to cardiovascular disorders. The development of cardiovascular disease can be attributed to the release of adipokines by adipose tissue that is expanded due to obesity. Adipokines are bioactive compounds secreted by adipose tissue dysfunction.   

Key Areas Covered

1. What are Adipose Cells
     – Definition, Features, Importance
2. What is Obesity
     – Definition, Features, Importance
2. What Happens to Adipose Cells in Obesity
     – Features, Importance

Key Terms

Adipose Cells, ObesityWhat Happens to Adipose Cells in Obesity - Summary

What are Adipose Cells

Adipose tissue, which contains adipose cells, is a type of loose connective tissue that stores fat in the form of triglycerides within the body. It forms a thick layer under the skin, around the heart, kidneys, joints, and buttocks. Moreover, the most prominent types of cells in the adipose tissue are adipocytes. Adipose cells are specialized to store energy as fat. Each adipocyte cell is filled with a single, large droplet of fat. Hence, the cytoplasm and the nucleus of the cell are pushed to the edges as fat occupies most of its space. Mesenchymal stem cells develop into adipocytes in a process called adipogenesis. Besides, there are two main adipose tissue: white adipose tissue and brown adipose tissue. Different types of adipose tissue contain different types of adipose cells.

What Happens to Adipose Cells in Obesity

Figure 1: Adipose Cells

Moreover, the white adipose tissue contains a single layer of lipid droplets surrounding the cytoplasm. However, the brown adipose tissue contains several lipid droplets in the cytoplasm. The white adipose tissue is also known as the unilocular adipose tissue, while the brown adipose tissue is also known as the multilocular adipose tissue. Furthermore, the main function of the adipose tissue is to serve as an insulating layer that helps to reduce heat loss through the skin. It also provides mechanical protection to the internal organs. Besides, adipose tissue is an energy source as it stores fat.

What is Obesity

Obesity refers to abnormal and excessive fat accumulation risking the health of the body. Generally, the body mass index (BMI) over 30 is obese. The rates of obesity continue to grow in children and adults. Obesity increases other risks of diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain cancers. Although people have difficulty in losing weight, inheritance, as well as other psychological and environmental factors, can lead to obesity. Moreover, a lack of physical activity and exercise combined with an unhealthy diet can cause obesity.

Adipose Cells in Obesity

Figure 2: Obesity

However, a healthy diet, increasing physical activity, and behavioral changes can prevent obesity. Although obesity is a medical condition, sometimes it is called a disease. This is because the accumulation of excess body fat can negatively affect health.    

What Happens to Adipose Cells in Obesity

Obesity is causally linked to cardiovascular disease development. Adipose tissue undergoes dysfunction in obesity, promoting the chronic inflammatory state in organisms. Adipose tissue leads to the production of adipokines that function as inflammatory modulators. Besides, obesity affects the secretome of adipokines acting on remote tissues. Meanwhile, obesity increases the production of pro-inflammatory adipokines while downregulating the production of anti-inflammatory adipokines. This leads to the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease. Therefore, adipose tissue quantity is proportional to the cardiovascular risk.    


Obesity is the increased amount of adipose tissue in the body. Usually, adipose tissue produces adipokines, bioactive substances functioning as inflammatory modulators. It also causes the upregulation of the production of pro-inflammatory adipokines while downregulating the production of anti-inflammatory adipokines. This causes the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease. Therefore, obesity leads to the development of cardiovascular disease by secreting pro-inflammatory adipokines from the obesity-driven adipose tissue.  

  1. Adipocyte.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation.
  2. “Obesity.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 
  3. Fuster JJ, Ouchi N, Gokce N, Walsh K. “Obesity-Induced Changes in Adipose Tissue Microenvironment and Their Impact on Cardiovascular Disease.” Circ Res. 2016 May 27
Image Courtesy:
  1. Blausen 0012 AdiposeTissue” By BruceBlaus.– Own work (CC BY 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
  2. Obesity-waist circumference” By Renée Gordon (FDA), Victovoi – Own Work (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things. She has a keen interest in writing articles regarding science.

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