Adipose Derived Stem Cells on Microspheres

Examining the Pollution in Our Fat

It’s a disquieting thought. Pollution in our fat is a real, measurable thing. But that’s precisely why it deserves a closer look. Vicente Mustieles‍‍ and Juan Arrebola explain in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. Fat tissue is an important endocrine organ. And it’s also the place in our bodies where endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) accumulate. Those EDCs are elusive culprits in the growing rates of obesity.

Measuring and studying this pollution in our fat might be a good way to firm up our understanding of this source of obesity.

A Wide Array of Pollution

It’s quite an assortment of chemicals that pollute our fat. In fact, Mustieles‍‍ and Arrebola describe nine distinct groups of them. For example, bisphenols, like BPA, are so widely used in food packaging that they find they way into the food supply. That’s one of the ways that they enter our bodies. Once they’re in there, they migrate into our white fat tissue. That’s because they’re lipophilic – attracted to fat more than water.

The list also includes things like heavy metals, PCBs, dioxins, and a lot of other bad actors. Because they migrate into fat tissue, this tissue becomes something of a storage site for EDCs.

A Challenge and an Opportunity

Relatively speaking, it’s easy to collect blood and urine samples. Collecting samples of fat tissue is harder. But it may be well worth the trouble. Adipose tissue is both a storage site for these bad actors and potentially the site where they exert their effects. Having a new, objective biomarker for the effects of EDCs could be quite valuable for understanding their contribution to obesity.

A Growing Issue

EDCs are getting more and more scrutiny. But suspicions are not the basis for sound policy. We need objective research to more fully understand how this pollution in our fat may be contributing to obesity and other endocrine diseases. Mustieles‍‍ and Arrebola offer us a good roadmap for this work.

Click here for the paper by Mustieles‍‍ and Arrebola and here for more background on EDCs from the Endocrine Society.

Adipose Derived Stem Cells on Microspheres, photograph © Tiziano Tallone / flickr

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February x, 2020