Adipose tissue transplantation protects ob/ob mice from obesity, normalizes insulin sensitivity and restores fertility.

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J Endocrinol 2005 Jul; 186(1):203-11.


Adipose tissue affects metabolism by secreting various adipokines. Lipodystropic mice benefit both from leptin replacement therapy and from transplantation of normal fat. Leptin-deficient Lep(ob)/Lep(ob) (ob/ob) mice can also be treated with leptin. Surprisingly, there have been no reports of successful treatment of obese ob/ob mice by transplantation of normal white adipose tissue (WAT). If WAT transplantation is ineffective in treating insulin resistance and diabetes in obese individuals, its applicability may be limited in humans as such abnormalities are usually associated with obesity. In the current study, we tested whether WAT transplantation might prevent, and even reverse, abnormalities characteristic of ob/ob mice. To assess the preventive potential, 6-week-old ob/ob mice were transplanted, subcutaneously, with gonadal fat pads from normal mice. Profound effects on multiple physiological phenotypes were achieved despite leptin levels below 25% of those in control mice. WAT from one donor reduced body weight gain, and WAT from 4 or 8 donors prevented obesity in ob/ob mice. Nonfasting insulin levels and insulin tolerance test were normalized. Corticosterone elevation was also prevented. Finally, WAT from 4 donors restored fertility in ob/ob females. The effects of WAT transplantation were long-lasting, with body weight gain suppressed for at least 40 weeks. To assess the therapeutic potential, obese 13-month-old ob/ob mice with a long history of leptin deficiency were used. Their body weight decreased by approximately 50% when transplanted with WAT from 8 donors. As in young recipients, transplantation greatly reduced nonfasting insulin, suggesting normalized insulin sensitivity. Thus, WAT transplantation was effective for both prevention and therapy. In the future, WAT transplantation may become a useful alternative to hormone replacement in treating not only lipodystropy, but also certain types of obesity.