Not all fat is equal. The lipid cells that sit around our organs (pictured) are much more dangerous than those that pad our body from just underneath the skin. What’s more, it now appears that the different fats are created unequal right from the start. Using genetic modification, scientists changed a specific group of mouse embryo cells in such a way that all their descendants light up green. When they checked full-grown mice, lots of green cells carrying lipid droplets (blue) showed up in the ‘bad’ fats, but none were found in the ‘good’ fat underneath the skin. This shows that the two fats have different developmental roots, and thereby solves a long-standing mystery in obesity research. If scientists can find a way to stop these ‘green’ cells making more of themselves, they might be able to stop the body laying down bad fat.
Written by Emma Bornebroek
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.