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World J Stem Cells. 2014 Jan 26;6(1):33-42. doi: 10.4252/wjsc.v6.i1.33.

Distinction of white, beige and brown adipocytes derived from mesenchymal stem cells.

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Anna Park, Won Kon Kim, Kwang-Hee Bae, Research Center for Integrated Cellulomics, KRIBB, Daejeon 305-806, South Korea.


Adipose tissue is a major metabolic organ, and it has been traditionally classified as either white adipose tissue (WAT) or brown adipose tissue (BAT). WAT and BAT are characterized by different anatomical locations, morphological structures, functions, and regulations. WAT and BAT are both involved in energy balance. WAT is mainly involved in the storage and mobilization of energy in the form of triglycerides, whereas BAT specializes in dissipating energy as heat during cold- or diet-induced thermogenesis. Recently, brown-like adipocytes were discovered in WAT. These brown-like adipocytes that appear in WAT are called beige or brite adipocytes. Interestingly, these beige/brite cells resemble white fat cells in the basal state, but they respond to thermogenic stimuli with increased levels of thermogenic genes and increased respiration rates. In addition, beige/brite cells have a gene expression pattern distinct from that of either white or brown fat cells. The current epidemic of obesity has increased the interest in studying adipocyte formation (adipogenesis), especially in beige/brite cells. This review summarizes the developmental process of adipose tissues that originate from the mesenchymal stem cells and the features of these three different types of adipocytes.


Adipogenesis; Beige/brite adipocytes; Brown adipocytes; Browning; Mesenchymal stem cells; Thermogenesis; White adipocytes

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