Circulation factors present in the sera of naturally skinny people may influence cell commitment and adipocyte differentiation of mesenchymal stromal cells


Nicola Alessio, Tiziana Squillaro, Vincenzo Monda, Gianfranco Peluso, Marcellino Monda,  Mariarosa AB Melone, Umberto Galderisi, Giovanni Di Bernardo



Research on physiopathology of obesity may receive new hints from studies on skinny people (SP). These are individuals who show a poor or null gaining of body weight, in spite of high-calorie intake, by far exceeding the body requirements.


To evaluate how circulating factors present in the SP sera may affect adipogenesis of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs).


We isolated MSCs from bone marrow of healthy donors with both normal body mass index (BMI) and caloric consumption. MSC cultures were primed with sera collected from SP or normal people (NP). Then biomolecular assays were performed to evaluate effects on proliferation, apoptosis, senescence, cell commitment, and differentiation.


SP priming affected adipocyte cell commitment and reduced spontaneous adipogenesis. Moreover, an in-depth analysis of exogenous-induced adipocyte differentiation showed striking differences between differentiation in SP-primed samples compared with NP ones. In adipocytes from SP cultures we observed a reduced size of lipid droplets, an increased expression of adipose triglyceride lipase, along with high mitochondria content and ability to produce ATP in starvation condition. These data and the expression of UCP1 protein, indicated that SP pretreatment produced a bias toward brown adipocyte differentiation.


Our data suggest that sera from SP may promote brown adipogenesis rather that white adipocyte differentiation. This finding could explain why SP present normal body composition in spite of an excess of caloric intake. We hypothesize that some circulating components present in the blood of these individuals may favor brown adipogenesis at expense of white adipocyte production.