Ingrid Wernstedt Asterholm
Department of Physiology at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, University of Gothenburg
We are interested in the role of adipose tissue for whole-body metabolic regulation as well as the connection between obesity and increased cancer risk. In particular, we focus on the role of local phenomena within adipose tissue for local and systemic metabolic health as well as tumor progression.
Healthy adipose tissue stores and releases just the right amount of energy to meet the body’s metabolic demand. This function requires metabolically healthy adipocytes, which are characterized by e.g. a high sensitivity to insulin and adrenergic agonist and many and functional mitochondria. Furthermore, proper interplay between adipocytes and other adipose tissue-resident cells (such as various leukocytes) is also essential for adipose tissue functionality. Just consider the dramatic tissue remodeling necessary for accommodating growing or shrinking adipocytes as we gain or lose weight!
Unhealthy adipose tissue fails at all levels. The adipocytes are insensitive to metabolic cues and the interactions with the immune system leads to chronic inflammatory processes rather than proper remodeling. Furthermore, the production adiponectin, an adipocyte-derived hormone with many positive effects on metabolic health, decreases. Such dysfunctional adipose tissue cannot effectively store excess energy and put thereby body at risk for toxic side effects from too high levels of circulating nutrients.