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J Lipid Res. 2007 Oct;48(10):2103-11. Epub 2007 May 11.

Cellular spelunking: exploring adipocyte caveolae.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02118, USA.


It has been known for decades that the adipocyte cell surface is particularly rich in small invaginations we now know to be caveolae. These structures are common to many cell types but are not ubiquitous. They have generated considerable curiosity, as manifested by the numerous publications on the topic that describe various, sometimes contradictory, caveolae functions. Here, we review the field from an "adipocentric" point of view and suggest that caveolae may have a function of particular use for the fat cell, namely the modulation of fatty acid flux across the plasma membrane. Other functions for adipocyte caveolae that have been postulated include participation in signal transduction and membrane trafficking pathways, and it will require further experimental scrutiny to resolve controversies surrounding these possible activities.

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