Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Putting the squeeze on fat cells

Date:
November 22, 2010
Source:
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Summary:
Scientists are researching the theory that fat cells, like bone or muscle cells, are influenced by mechanical loads. By recreating the structure of fat cells using a newly developed computer method, researchers can determine how much mechanical load can be tolerated by fat cells, and at what point the cells will begin to disintegrate. The research has direct applications in weight loss programs and the management of chronic diabetes.

From fad diets to exercise programs, Americans continue to fight the battle of the bulge. Now they'll have help from recent Tel Aviv University research that has developed a new method to look at how fat cells -- which produce the fat in our bodies -- respond to mechanical loads.

This might be the key to understanding how to control the amount of fat produced by fat cells, the holy grail of weight loss researchers, says Prof. Amit Gefen of Tel Aviv University's Department of Biomedical Engineering. His research is driven by the theory that fat cells, like bone or muscle cells, are influenced by mechanical loads, defined as the amount of force or deformation placed on a particular area occupied by cells. By recreating the structure of fat cells using a newly-developed computer method, Prof. Gefen and his team of researchers can determine how much mechanical load can be tolerated by fat cells, and at what point the cells will begin to disintegrate.

The research, recently reported in the Journal of Biomechanics, has direct applications in weight loss programs, the treatment of bedsores and the management of chronic diabetes.

Bones in space, fat on the ground

According to Prof. Gefen, applying mechanical loads on tissues can affect many different cells within our bodies. For example, zero gravity affects the bone density of astronauts. When astronauts return home after a prolonged space flight, he explains, they are often confined to a wheelchair for a small period of time. The structures of their bones and muscles, which are determined by the cells that produce these structures, are weakened due to a lack of mechanical loads. This occurs because cells are deprived of "normal" mechanical stimulation, like walking.

Prof. Gefen believes that, much like bone or muscle cells, fat cells are also affected by mechanical loads. His new computer model takes slices of laser confocal microscopy images of cells and reconstructs a whole, virtual version of an individual cell, allowing researchers to evaluate how that cell will respond to different mechanical stimuli. "We use these computer models to see how cells function under mechanical loading, much like simulations in structural engineering are used to test the strength of bridges or machines," he explains.

After assembling their "virtual" fat cells, Prof. Gefen and his group found that fat cells or lipids have a point where mechanical loads can disintegrate them, as well as a point at which they are able to resist disintegration. Prof. Gefen is now trying to determine the specific load magnitudes and frequencies for fat cells, perhaps using ultrasound at a supersonic frequency to vibrate the tissue.

Not all infomercials are light-weight

Those fat-busting "ab vibrators" that you can see on infomercials are on the right track, says Prof. Gefen, but the magnitude of mechanical loads and the frequency of their application need to be scientifically determined. Such information could be crucial to the future of our health, he says, noting that diabetes and obesity rates are rising. "Any treatment that would be effective in fighting obesity would also apply immediately to diabetes," he explains.

The next step for Prof. Gefen and his fellow researchers is to pin down the mathematical equations that allow for the dissolving of lipid droplets, then predict what a fat cell will do under certain levels of force. This will lead to better information on how to use mechanical loads to control the production of fat by fat cells -- whether this means applying a certain frequency of ultrasonic vibration, or simply spending more time in the gym.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Friends of Tel Aviv University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Amit Gefen. How high is a “high” Hirsch index in biomechanics research? Journal of Biomechanics, 2010; DOI: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2010.01.047

Cite This Page:

American Friends of Tel Aviv University. "Putting the squeeze on fat cells." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101122121645.htm>.
American Friends of Tel Aviv University. (2010, November 22). Putting the squeeze on fat cells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101122121645.htm
American Friends of Tel Aviv University. "Putting the squeeze on fat cells." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101122121645.htm (accessed September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How The 'Angelina Jolie Effect' Increased Cancer Screenings

How The 'Angelina Jolie Effect' Increased Cancer Screenings

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) Angelina's Jolie's decision to undergo a preventative mastectomy in 2013 inspired many women to seek early screenings for the disease. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Cost of Ebola

The Cost of Ebola

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 18, 2014) As Sierra Leone prepares for a three-day "lockdown" in its latest bid to stem the spread of Ebola, Ciara Lee looks at the financial implications of fighting the largest ever outbreak of the disease. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins