How fat cells respond to mechanical loads can be studied now through a new method developed by researchers at the Tel Aviv University.
This might be the key to understanding how to control the amount of fat produced by fat cells, the holy grail of weight loss researchers, says Prof. Amit Gefen of TAU Department of Biomedical Engineering.
His research is driven by the theory that fat cells, like bone or muscle cells, are influenced by mechanical loads, defined as the amount of force or deformation placed on a particular area occupied by cells.
By recreating the structure of fat cells using a newly-developed computer method, Prof. Gefen and his team of researchers can determine how much mechanical load can be tolerated by fat cells, and at what point the cells will begin to disintegrate.
According to Prof. Gefen, applying mechanical loads on tissues can affect many different cells within our bodies.
He believes that, much like bone or muscle cells, fat cells are also affected by mechanical loads.
His new computer model takes slices of laser confocal microscopy images of cells and reconstructs a whole, virtual version of an individual cell, allowing researchers to evaluate how that cell will respond to different mechanical stimuli.
After assembling their "virtual" fat cells, Prof. Gefen and his group found that fat cells or lipids have a point where mechanical loads can disintegrate them, as well as a point at which they are able to resist disintegration.
The finding was recently reported in the Journal of Biomechanics.