Healing wounds from the inside out is an intricate process that involves the aid of different types of cells. A recent study showed that fat cells, surprisingly, might be one of them. The new discovery showed how fat cells that were exposed to an injury propelled themselves towards the wound, pushed away debris, and helped ward off infection so that the immune cells could focus on healing the wound. Keep reading to learn more about this groundbreaking study!
Fat Cells May Have an Active Role in Healing Wounds
What are fat cells?
Also called adipocytes or lipocytes, fat cells are what adipose tissue is primarily made of. They provide our bodies with insulation and help store energy as fat. When the energy acquired from carbohydrates is depleted, the energy stored in the adipose tissue steps in to fuel our bodies.
Where are they located?
Fat cells are found where there is adipose tissue, which is mostly underneath our skin. Other locations include the breasts, internal organs, and bone marrow.
When do fat cells move?
It is a conventional belief that fat cells are sessile, meaning they do not move. But a recent discovery shows that fat cells may become motile and even help in healing wounds. A group of researchers observed this from a fruit fly with the intention to record how its immune system cells move when responding to injury. What they did not expect to see was fat cells actively migrating directly towards the wound.
How do fat cells help in healing wounds?
Aside from the recent study on the fruit fly, fat cells are not known to move or take an active role in healing. But what was observed in the study was that the fat cells propelled themselves to the site of injury. First, they used their mass to seal off the wound. Then, they pushed the debris away from the opening to the sides where the immune cells are waiting to eat it up. Plus, they produced a substance that helped ward off infection.
Why is this discovery important?
Fat cells, once again, are sessile—or so we thought. The discovery may ignite further research into fat cells and its locomotive abilities, stretching to other related studies like weight loss. Scientists may also delve deeper into the fat cells’ roles besides insulation and energy storage. The focus might be on how fat cells aid in healing a wound faster.
Who discovered that fat cells may help in healing wounds?
Researchers at the University of Bristol in Britain found that fat cells in a fruit fly may move. They may even collaborate with immune cells in healing wounds. The team includes Anna Franz, Will Wood, and Paul Martin who then wrote and published the study.
Watch this TED-Ed video, with Sarthak Sinha as the presenter, to learn more about healing wounds:
The research on fat cells may just lead to the discovery of treatments for healing wounds quickly. Much work needs to be done considering that the observation was done on a fruit fly alone as of writing. But the possibility of knowing more about the fat cells’ role in healing wounds and its potential benefits to the medical field is truly exciting.
Share with us what you know about healing wounds in the comments section below!