Harnessing adipocytes in regeneration

01 January 2024 → 31 December 2027
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Medical and health sciences
    • Cell signalling
    • Cellular interactions and extracellular matrix
    • Regenerative medicine not elsewhere classified
    • Plastic surgery
adipocyte crosstalk regenerative medicine autologous fat grafting
Project description

Wound healing of the skin results in formation of a scar that is characterized by excessive collagen deposition and absence of subcutaneous fat. The transfer of adipocytes, or fat cells, into wounded skin can enhance regeneration of chronic wounds. Despite these clinical observations, the molecular mechanisms by which adipocytes accelerate tissue repair are largely unknown. We recently performed single-cell RNA-sequencing on different regenerative stages of autologous fat grafts (AFGs) in patients undergoing reconstructive breast surgery. We revealed a substantial increase in specific cytokines in regenerating grafts. Here, we aim to validate the upregulation of these molecules and assess their functional contribution to adipocyte survival and differentiation. In order to investigate the molecular and cellular crosstalk between adipocytes and other cell-types in the graft, we aim to perform single-nucleus RNA-sequencing of human AFGs in different post-grafting stages. The latter approach allows for the profiling of large, fragile cells, such as adipocytes, that are excluded in existing single-cell pipelines. Next, we will investigate the molecular changes observed in regenerating human AFGs in a broader regenerative context, namely mouse skin undergoing repair. These analyses will not only instruct improvement of surgical procedures employing transfer of fat tissue, but will also create knowledge on how to exploit the adipocyte plasticity in other regenerative tissues.