Adipocytes provide the organism with fuel in times of caloric deficit and are an important endocrine cell in metabolic homeostasis. In addition, as a lipid-sink, the adipocyte serves an equally important role in the protection of organs from the damaging effects of ectopic lipid deposition. For the organism, it is of vital importance to maintain adipocyte viability. And yet, the fat depot is a demanding extracellular environment with high levels of interstitial free fatty acids and associated lipotoxic effects. These surroundings are less than beneficial for the overall health of any resident cell, adipocyte and pre-adipocyte alike. In this review we discuss the process of adipogenesis and the potential involvement of the p53 tumor suppressor protein in alleviating some of the cellular stress experienced by these cells. In particular we will discuss p53-mediated mechanisms that prevent damage caused by reactive-oxygen species (ROS) and the effects of lipotoxicity. We will also suggest the potential for two p53-target genes, StarD4 and OSBP, with the concomitant synthesis of the signaling molecule oxysterol, to particpate in adipogenesis. Adipose tissue grows by two mechanisms: hyperplasia (cell number increase) and hypertrophy (cell size increase). Genetics and diet affect the relative contributions of these two mechanisms to the growth of adipose tissue in obesity. In this study, the size distributions of epididymal adipose cells from two mouse strains, obesity-resistant FVB/N and obesity-prone C57BL/6, were measured after 2, 4, and 12 weeks under regular and high-fat feeding conditions. The total cell number in the epididymal fat pad was estimated from the fat pad mass and the normalized cell-size distribution. The cell number and volume-weighted mean cell size increase as a function of fat pad mass. To address adipose tissue growth precisely, we developed a mathematical model describing the evolution of the adipose cell-size distributions as a function of the increasing fat pad mass, instead of the increasing chronological time. Our model describes the recruitment of new adipose cells and their subsequent development in different strains, and with different diet regimens, with common mechanisms, but with diet- and genetics-dependent model parameters. Compared to the FVB/N strain, the C57BL/6 strain has greater recruitment of small adipose cells. Hyperplasia is enhanced by high-fat diet in a strain-dependent way, suggesting a synergistic interaction between genetics and diet. Moreover, high-fat feeding increases the rate of adipose cell size growth, independent of strain, reflecting the increase in calories requiring storage. Additionally, high-fat diet leads to a dramatic spreading of the size distribution of adipose cells in both strains;this implies an increase in size fluctuations of adipose cells through lipid turnover. Signaling molecules released by adipose tissue have been implicated in inflammation, adipocyte dysfunction and systemic insulin resistance. In this study, we used 2-D LC-MS/MS and quantitative proteomics approaches to characterize the obese adipose secretory proteins that are responsive to the thiazolidinediones class of PPAR-g agonizts. We first showed the differential secretion profiling between obese and lean adipose tissue;87 proteins were detected from the conditioned medium of adipose tissue of Zucker obese rats compared with 31 from lean rats. A total of 57 proteins comprising immune factors, inflammatory molecules, collagens, proteases, and extracellular matrix proteins were detected from obese, but not lean adipose tissue. More importantly, a quantitative proteomics approach using 18O proteolytic labeling allowed quantification of the difference in the secretion levels of 77 proteins, and thiazolidinediones treatment suppressed the secretion of most of the obese adipose tissue secretome, thus resembling a lean tissue. We have demonstrated an application of identifying the obese adipose secretome and characterizing the regulation of adipose secretion in obesity and insulin resistance. Our data provide the first evidence of changes in adipose secretion in obesity at a global level and show that such changes are correlated with systemic insulin resistance. We have previously described differences in adipose cell size distribution and expression of genes related to adipocyte differentiation in subcutaneous abdominal fat obtained from insulin-sensitive (IS) and -resistant (IR) persons, matched for degree of moderate obesity. To determine whether other biological properties also differ between IR and IS obese individuals, we quantified markers of inflammatory activity in adipose tissue from overweight IR and IS individuals. Subcutaneous abdominal tissue was obtained from moderately obese women, divided into IR (n = 14) and IS (n = 19) subgroups by determining their steady-state plasma glucose (SSPG) concentrations during the insulin suppression test. Inflammatory activity was assessed by comparing expression of nine relevant genes and by immunohistochemical quantification of CD45- and CD68-containing cells. SSPG concentrations were approximately threefold higher in IR than in IS individuals. Expression levels of CD68, EMR1, IL8, IL6 and MCP/CCL2 mRNAs were modestly but significantly increased (p <0.05) in IR compared with IS participants. Results of immunohistochemical staining were consistent with gene expression data, demonstrating modest differences between IR and IS individuals. Crown-like structures, in which macrophages surround single adipocytes, were rarely seen in tissue from either subgroup. A modest increase in inflammatory activity was seen in subcutaneous adipose tissue from IR compared with equally obese IS individuals. Together with previous evidence of impaired adipose cell differentiation in IR vs equally obese individuals, it appears that at least two biological processes in subcutaneous adipose tissue characterize the insulin-resistant state independent of obesity per se. Rodent and in-vitro studies suggest that thiazolidinediones promote adipogenesis but there are few studies in humans to corroborate these findings. The purpose of this study was to determine whether pioglitazone stimulates adipogenesis in-vivo and whether this process relates to improved insulin sensitivity.To test this hypothesis, 12 overweight/obese nondiabetic, insulin-resistant individuals underwent biopsy of abdominal subcutaneous adipose tissue at baseline and after 12 weeks of pioglitazone treatment. Cell size distribution was determined via the Multisizer technique. Insulin sensitivity was quantified at baseline and postpioglitazone by the modified insulin suppression test. Regional fat depots were quantified by computed tomography.Insulin resistance (SSPG)decreased following pioglitazone (p<0.001). There was an increase in the ratio of small-to-large cells (1.16 +0.44 vs 1.52 +0.66, p=0.03), as well as a 25% increase in the absolute number of small cells (p=0.03). The distribution of large cell diameters widened (p=0.009), but did diameter did not increase. The increase in proportion of small cells was associated with the degree to which insulin resistance improved (r= -0.72, p=0.012). Visceral abdominal fat decreased (p=0.04), and subcutaneous abdominal (p=0.03) and femoral fat (p=0.004) increased significantly. Changes in fat volume were not associated with SSPG change. These findings demonstrate a clear effect of pioglitazone on human subcutaneous adipose cells, suggestive of adipogenesis in abdominal subcutaneous adipose tissue, as well as redistribution of fat from visceral to subcutaneous depots, highlighting a potential mechanism of action for thiazolidinediones. These findings support the hypothesis that defects in subcutaneous fat storage may underlie obesity-associated insulin resistance.

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McLaughlin, T; Lamendola, C; Coghlan, N et al. (2014) Subcutaneous adipose cell size and distribution: relationship to insulin resistance and body fat. Obesity (Silver Spring) 22:673-80
Guo, Hong; Bazuine, Merlijn; Jin, Daozhong et al. (2013) Evidence for the regulatory role of lipocalin 2 in high-fat diet-induced adipose tissue remodeling in male mice. Endocrinology 154:3525-38
Kursawe, Romy; Caprio, Sonia; Giannini, Cosimo et al. (2013) Decreased transcription of ChREBP-?/? isoforms in abdominal subcutaneous adipose tissue of obese adolescents with prediabetes or early type 2 diabetes: associations with insulin resistance and hyperglycemia. Diabetes 62:837-44
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MacKellar, Jennifer; Cushman, Samuel W; Periwal, Vipul (2010) Waves of adipose tissue growth in the genetically obese Zucker fatty rat. PLoS One 5:e8197
Santoro, Nicola; Kursawe, Romy; D'Adamo, Ebe et al. (2010) A common variant in the patatin-like phospholipase 3 gene (PNPLA3) is associated with fatty liver disease in obese children and adolescents. Hepatology 52:1281-90
McLaughlin, Tracey M; Liu, T; Yee, Gail et al. (2010) Pioglitazone increases the proportion of small cells in human abdominal subcutaneous adipose tissue. Obesity (Silver Spring) 18:926-31
Kursawe, Romy; Eszlinger, Markus; Narayan, Deepak et al. (2010) Cellularity and adipogenic profile of the abdominal subcutaneous adipose tissue from obese adolescents: association with insulin resistance and hepatic steatosis. Diabetes 59:2288-96
Daigle Jr, Bernie J; Deng, Alicia; McLaughlin, Tracey et al. (2010) Using pre-existing microarray datasets to increase experimental power: application to insulin resistance. PLoS Comput Biol 6:e1000718
McLaughlin, T; Deng, A; Yee, G et al. (2010) Inflammation in subcutaneous adipose tissue: relationship to adipose cell size. Diabetologia 53:369-77

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