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Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2016 Jun;15(6):405-24. doi: 10.1038/nrd.2016.31. Epub 2016 Mar 11.

Convertible visceral fat as a therapeutic target to curb obesity.

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Department of Experimental and Clinical Medicine, University of Ancona (Università Politecnica delle Marche), Via Tronto, 10/A 60020 Ancona, Italy.
Department of Public Health Experimental and Forensic Medicine, University of Pavia, 27100 Pavia, Italy.
Center of Obesity, University of Ancona (Università Politecnica delle Marche)-United Hospitals, 60020 Ancona, Italy.


New therapeutic and preventative strategies are needed to address the growing obesity epidemic. In animal models, brown adipose tissue activation and the associated heat produced contribute to countering obesity and the accompanying metabolic abnormalities. Adult humans also have functional brown fat. Here, we present and discuss the concepts of murine and human white adipose tissue plasticity and the transdifferentiation of white adipocytes into brown adipocytes. Human visceral adipocytes - which are crucial contributors to the burden of obesity and its complications - are particularly susceptible to such transdifferentiation. Therefore, we propose that this process should be a focus of anti-obesity research. Approved drugs that have browning properties as well as future drugs that target molecular pathways involved in white-to-brown visceral adipocyte transdifferentiation may provide new avenues for obesity therapy.

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