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PLoS One. 2010 Jan 22;5(1):e8197. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0008197.

Waves of adipose tissue growth in the genetically obese Zucker fatty rat.

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Diabetes Branch, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.

Erratum in

  • PLoS One. 2010;5(4). doi: 10.1371/annotation/937ee9b8-124d-4a08-91c1-4f0f9cf1a742.



In mammals, calories ingested in excess of those used are stored primarily as fat in adipose tissue; consistent ingestion of excess calories requires an enlargement of the adipose tissue mass. Thus, a dysfunction in adipose tissue growth may be a key factor in insulin resistance due to imbalanced fat storage and disrupted insulin action. Adipose tissue growth requires the recruitment and then the development of adipose precursor cells, but little is known about these processes in vivo.


In this study, adipose cell-size probability distributions were measured in two Zucker fa/fa rats over a period of 151 and 163 days, from four weeks of age, using micro-biopsies to obtain subcutaneous (inguinal) fat tissue from the animals. These longitudinal probability distributions were analyzed to assess the probability of periodic phenomena.


Adipose tissue growth in this strain of rat exhibits a striking temporal periodicity of approximately days. A simple model is proposed for the periodicity, with PPAR signaling driven by a deficit in lipid uptake capacity leading to the periodic recruitment of new adipocytes. This model predicts that the observed period will be diet-dependent.

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