How Different Pig Breeds' Cells Behave in Fat Formation

Jenn Hoskins
26th April, 2024

How Different Pig Breeds' Cells Behave in Fat Formation

Image Source: Erik Mclean (photographer)

Key Findings

  • The study explored how pig stem cells turn into fat cells, focusing on genetic and tissue source differences
  • Fat cells from different pig breeds and tissues showed unique gene activity during fat formation
  • Understanding these differences helps develop targeted treatments for obesity and bone regeneration
Obesity is a global health issue that often leads to insulin resistance and other metabolic complications. Understanding how fat cells, or adipocytes, develop is crucial for tackling this problem. Adipocytes come from mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which can turn into different cell types including bone, cartilage, and fat cells. This transformation is a complex process regulated by various factors and pathways, and a recent study by the FBN research institution has shed new light on this subject[1]. The FBN study dives into adipogenesis, the formation of fat cells, to understand how MSCs differentiate depending on their source and the genetic makeup of the individual they come from. These variables can influence how stem cells behave and what they eventually become, which is important when considering treatments for obesity-related issues. Previous research has shown that the ability of fat tissue to expand by forming new adipocytes is key to preventing obesity-related insulin resistance[2]. Factors that regulate the growth and differentiation of adipocytes are crucial because they ensure that fat cell development is in sync with the body's energy storage needs. The WNT signaling pathway, known for its role in tissue maintenance and remodeling, has been implicated in this regulation, making it a potential target for obesity treatments[2]. Bone and fat tissues are the two primary sources of MSCs. Bone marrow-derived MSCs (BMSCs) have traditionally been used for bone regeneration because they have a strong ability to turn into bone cells. Adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs), on the other hand, are more likely to become fat cells. This propensity is due to epigenetic memory, which refers to chemical modifications in the DNA that affect gene expression without changing the DNA sequence itself. This memory can make MSCs more inclined to differentiate into the cell type they originated from[3]. The FBN study builds on this knowledge by exploring how the source of MSCs and the genetic background of donors contribute to the cells' behavior and fate. It's known that BMSCs are more effective at bone regeneration compared to ASCs, which aligns with their origins and the epigenetic memory of being from bone marrow[4]. Similarly, the WNT signaling pathway's involvement in adipogenesis suggests that manipulating this pathway could alter the behavior of MSCs to favor the formation of bone or fat cells, depending on the treatment goal[2]. The use of stem cells, along with scaffolds and growth factors, has been a promising approach for repairing complex bone defects. The pig model has proven to be particularly useful for developing regenerative strategies due to its anatomical and physiological similarities to humans[4]. This insight is valuable for translating findings from animal models to human medicine. The FBN study's findings highlight the importance of considering the source of MSCs and the individual's genetic background when developing stem cell-based therapies for metabolic diseases. By understanding the molecular pathways that guide the differentiation of MSCs, researchers can better manipulate these cells for therapeutic purposes. For example, if the goal is to enhance bone regeneration, selecting BMSCs might be more effective due to their inherent osteogenic potential. Conversely, for treating obesity, ASCs might be more appropriate because of their natural predisposition to become fat cells. In conclusion, the FBN study contributes to a growing body of research that seeks to understand and harness the power of MSCs for regenerative medicine. By elucidating the molecular intricacies of adipogenesis and the factors that influence MSC differentiation, scientists are paving the way for more targeted and effective treatments for obesity and bone loss, potentially revolutionizing the approach to managing these conditions.

GeneticsBiochemAnimal Science


Main Study

1) Effect of metabolically divergent pig breeds and tissues on mesenchymal stem cell expression patterns during adipogenesis

Published 25th April, 2024

Related Studies

2) Adipogenesis and WNT signalling.

3) Tissue source determines the differentiation potentials of mesenchymal stem cells: a comparative study of human mesenchymal stem cells from bone marrow and adipose tissue.

4) Use of Pig as a Model for Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapies for Bone Regeneration.

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