Thermogenic fat cells that convert chemical energy into heat are present in both mice and humans. Recent years have witnessed a great advancement in our understanding of the regulation of these adipocytes and an increased appreciation of the potential these cells have to counteract obesity. Our research aims to understand the formation and activation of these fat cells and reveal how they may influence systemic metabolism.
The profound health consequences associated with obesity emphasize the importance of developing effective therapeutic interventions. My work focuses on a recently identified form of fat cells, so-called “beige cells.” Genetic manipulations that create more of these fat cells in mice have strong anti-obesity and anti-diabetic effects, and we are exploring potential new medicines that could have the same effect.
The paper "Beige Adipocytes Are a Distinct Type of Thermogenic Fat Cell in Mouse and Human" was one of twelve research articles selected by the journal Cell to be included in the year-end "Best of 2012" special edition. The research also received wide media coverage.
Wu J#, Jun H and McDermott JR. (2015) Formation and activation of thermogenic fat. Trends Genet. # Correspondence author.
Emont MP, Yu H, Jun H, Hong X, Maganti N, Stegemann JP and Wu J. (2015) Using a 3D culture system to differentiate visceral adipocytes in vitro. Endocrinology.
Wu J, Boström P, Sparks LM, Ye L, Choi JH, Giang AH, Khandekar M, Virtanen KA, Nuutila P, Schaart G, Huang K, Tu H, van Marken Lichtenbelt WD, Hoeks J, Enerbäck S, Schrauwen P and Spiegelman BM. (2012) Beige adipocytes are a distinct type of thermogenic fat cell in mouse and human. Cell.