D. Thea Baldrick
By wedding two strange bedfellows, bachelor degrees in Biology and Literature, the resulting chimeric offspring are stories laced with science. I publish with thecollector.com and Underland Arcana. Unearth at dthea.com
The Fat Cell 12: The Birth of the Fat Cell
In the bone marrow, lurks a nursery. Blood cells blossom from a rich mix of stem cells that usually become either a myeloid progenitor or a lymphoid progenitor. The lymphoid progenitor goes on to have an illustrious career as either a T or a B cell. Exit stage left.
The Fat Cell 11: Insulin and Exercise
Exercise helps cells become more sensitive to insulin. The evidence for this across populations of different ages, weights, and conditions is overwhelming. Pinpointing the exact mechanism that ends with such a positive result is, as usual with biological mechanisms, problematic; but one hypothesis gathering steam is based on TBC1D proteins in the muscle cell.
The Fat Cell 10: The Issue with Insulin
When a person becomes overweight, the risk for becoming a Type 2 diabetic increases 5 times and in obese people the risk is increased 60 times. Thirty percent of people who are heavier than normal weight have type 2 diabetes. The numbers are staggering.
The Fat Cell 9: Enter Insulin
After a meal is eaten, glucose rides around the bloodstream. Upon reaching the pancreas, the spongy fish-shaped organ, nestled behind the stomach, kicks out a hormone, insulin. Now both glucose and insulin are cruising around. The insulin alerts the muscles that it has arrived - like the doorbell signaling that lunch is on the doorstep. The muscle cell captures the glucose with a GLUT 4 molecule and uses the glucose for immediate projects.
Fat Cell 8: For the Love of Leptin
Oozing out of the fat cell is a hormone, leptin, a tiny molecule that has so much power it can stop a person from eating. In my case, that equates to a superpower. From the fat cell, the hormone floats along the bloodstream to the blood brain barrier, presents its admission card and passes through to the hypothalamus. The little molecule provides a double whammy to suppress the appetite. It initiates mechanisms that create fewer synapses that activate appetite neurons AND it increases the number of synapses that suppress the appetite.
Fat Cell 7: Will Power
I’ve been pushing exercise for both of us, but I am beginning to think I may have been wrong - at least in the early stages of habit changing. Kathryn and I have been talking about it and we looked some research up. Yes, exercise is important and amasses all sorts of benefits for weight loss and regaining health; but if it’s going to derail the efforts at changing eating habits, perhaps it's best to add it into one’s life a little later, after the healthier eating has been established.
The Fat Cell 6: Life Cycle
Fat cells incubate as mesenchymal stem cells. These stem cells can become bone cells, cartilage cells, muscle cells or adipocytes, fat cells, like a basic cookie mix (plant-based whole grain cookie mix, of course) that can become, chocolate chip, sugar, peanut butter or cranberry orange cookies, depending on what gets added to the bowl.
The Fat Cell 5: Where Are the Fat Cells?
One fat cell binds to another which binds to another making a wide sheath of fat cells, also known as adipose tissue or WAT (white adipose tissue). WAT has many other important cells in it but the bulk of it is the adipocyte, the fat cell. Its location varies and with the variation in location comes variation in the fat.
The Fat Cell 4: The Albumin Taxi
Beep! Cruising the bloodstream are fatty acids from the food we eat (I will cover the infinitely interesting and torturously complicated process of digestion later). Some fatty acids end up in the fat cells. Others end up in the muscles and organs to be used immediately. In the meantime, they are in the bloodstream but they are not alone.
The Fat Cell 3: The Lipid Droplet
The Fat Cell 3: The Lipid Droplet Even the words sound fat. ‘Lipid droplet,’ rich and round p’s and d’s, surrounded by the structure of the l’s and locked with the tight sound of t. The lipid droplet is the largest organelle within the fat cell, causing the fat cell (and when massed in the tissues, the human body) to expand or deflate based on the quantity of TAGS (triacylglycerols or triglycerides) and sterol esters. TAGs are how energy is stored. Quite simply, TAGs are fat (a backbone of glycerol and three arms of fatty acids) and fat is the best way to store energy. It is easily oxidized and broken up, it is energy dense, and it does not need water to function. In fact, fat, also known as oil at a different temperature, does not mix with water at all.
The Fat Cell 2: Three Shades of Fat
Fat comes in three colors (so far): brown, beige and white. Beige fat cells (which used to be lumped with the brown fat cells) have a few more mitochondria than white fat cells while brown fat cells are fairly seething with them. Since mitochondria are little energy factories, cells with more mitochondria churn out more heat - which, unsurprisingly, turns out to be the main function of brown fat cells.
The Fat Cell 1: What is a Fat Cell?
The fat cell, which is also known by the more respectable alias, ‘adipocyte’, looks like a water balloon almost completely filled with fat in the form of a lipid droplet. Embedded on top of the droplet is the nucleus, nestled as a mob boss amongst his ill-gotten gains. Tiny flecks, organelles of the cell, mill around the nucleus, as lackeys tend to do around the boss.