UMass Chan Medical School Faculty Publications


Emerging Complexities in Adipocyte Origins and Identity

UMMS Affiliation

Program in Molecular Medicine; UMass Metabolic Network; Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Interdisciplinary Graduate Program

Publication Date


Document Type



Cell Biology | Developmental Biology


The global incidence of obesity and its comorbidities continues to rise along with a demand for novel therapeutic interventions. Brown adipose tissue (BAT) is attracting attention as a therapeutic target because of its presence in adult humans and high capacity to dissipate energy as heat, and thus burn excess calories, when stimulated. Another potential avenue for therapeutic intervention is to induce, within white adipose tissue (WAT), the formation of brown-like adipocytes called brite (brown-like-in-white) or beige adipocytes. However, understanding how to harness the potential of these thermogenic cells requires a deep understanding of their developmental origins and regulation. Recent cell-labeling and lineage-tracing experiments are beginning to shed light on this emerging area of adipocyte biology. We review here adipocyte development, giving particular attention to thermogenic adipocytes.


UCP1, adipose tissue development, beige adipocyte, brite adipocyte, brown adipocyte, lipodystrophy, obesity, thermogenesis, white adipocyte

DOI of Published Version



Trends Cell Biol. 2016 May;26(5):313-26. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2016.01.004. Epub 2016 Feb 11. Link to article on publisher's site


Co-author Chien-Min Hung is a doctoral student in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS) at UMass Medical School.

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Trends in cell biology

PubMed ID