An increase in adipocyte number is a major contributor to the increase in adipose tissue mass that is characteristic of obesity. The identity and regulation of the adipocyte precursor cell (or preadipocyte) and the preadipocyte precursor cell (or progenitor cell) have been intensely studied for many years. In this issue of the JCI, Crossno et al. report that progenitor cells originating from outside the adipose tissue, in particular the bone marrow, can contribute to an increase in adipocyte number (see the related article beginning on page 3220). Their study in mice reveals that treatment with the thiazolidinedione rosiglitazone or exposure to a high-fat diet promotes the trafficking of circulating bone marrow–derived progenitor cells into adipose tissue, where they become multilocular adipocytes. This adds a new and unexpected dimension to this research arena.
Gary J. Hausman, Dorothy B. Hausman