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Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1998 Dec;219(3):200-10.

Regulation of adipose cell development in utero.

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Department of Foods and Nutrition, University of Georgia and Animal Physiology, USDA Russell Research Center, Athens, Georgia 30602, USA.


The condition of obesity is impacted by increases in fat cell number, fat cell size, or a combination of the two. It is generally believed that fat cell number is dependent on the age of onset and the degree of obesity. This review provides an update on intrauterine growth of fetal adipose tissue, the earliest period of proliferation onset, and the factors that interact to enhance or suppress development. Fetal adipose tissue development is regulated by the complex interaction of maternal, endocrine, and paracrine influences that initiate specific changes in angiogenesis, adipogenesis, and metabolism. Developmental stages and metabolic processes influenced by specific hormones and paracrine factors have been identified through examination of the offspring of obese and diabetic pregnancies, hormonal manipulation during late pregnancy in animal models, and the use of cell culture. Collectively, the results of the studies cited herein delineate the basis for imprinting or conditioning of fetal preadipocytes at the paracrine/autocrine level and a role of thyroxine, glucocorticoids, and other hormones in fetal adipose tissue development and metabolism.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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