Close interaction seen between blood vessel development and fat tissue formation

The key physiological processes of angiogenesis, the growth of new blood cells, and adipogenesis, the development and growth of fat cells, appear to be so closely interwoven that interfering with one process also halts the other. These findings from researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) could eventually help to solve problems ranging from cancer, to obesity, to the development of replacement organs. The study, which will be printed in the Oct. 31 issue of Circulation Research, is being published via the journal's website on Oct. 2.

"It really looks like angiogenesis and adipogenesis are joined at the hip," says Rakesh K. Jain, PhD, director of the Steele Laboratory for Tumor Biology at MGH, senior author of the study, "These new findings are helping us understand just how closely these processes work together and identify new ways of controlling these functions to meet important medical challenges."

Previous research had suggested connections between these two processes. A 2002 study from the laboratory of angiogenesis pioneer Judah Folkman, MD, at Children's Hospital Boston found that when anti-angiogenesis agents were given to mice genetically programmed to develop obesity, the mice did not gain weight. The current MGH study reveals the mechanism behind this interaction.

Led by three investigators from the Steele Laboratory at MGH Dai Fukumura, MD, PhD, Akira Ushiyama, PhD, and Dan Duda, DMD, PhD the research team began examining the process by which fat-cell precursors called preadipocytes differentiate into mature adipocytes (fat cells). They first implanted normal preadipocytes into chambers beneath the skin of immune-deficient mice, and as expected the cells differentiated into mature fat cells. But not only did blood vessels develop to supply the growing tissue, they also formed efficient, organized networks, something that rarely happens outside of natural growth conditions.

"We've been trying to gro

Contact: Sue McGreevey
Massachusetts General Hospital

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