Show/hide main menu


News Highlights

Cells could provide new target for tackling muscle deterioration in ageing and disease

Posted on 13/12/2013

Fat cells derived from fibroblast cells

Scientists from King’s College London have found that fat cells (adipocytes) in muscle arise from the transformation of resident cells existing within muscle, called fibroblasts. Although an early study, this research could pave the way for treatments aimed at tackling the decline in muscle quality (associated with increased fat and connective tissue) that occurs in ageing, obesity and a number of muscle diseases.

Published today in Journal of Cell Science, the study discovered that fibroblasts, previously thought to be committed only to the production and maintenance of connective tissue, are capable of entirely changing their identity to become fat cells. Identifying the triggers that turn fibroblasts into fat cells could have important implications for helping to prevent the deterioration in muscle that affects mobility and causes falls.

Chibeza Agley and colleagues from the Centre of Human & Aerospace Physiological Sciences at King’s studied cells obtained from the muscles of healthy young people. Professor Stephen Harridge, Director of the Centre, said: ‘We’ve shown that fibroblasts can be triggered to become fat cells, whilst muscle stem cells are resistant to switching cell type in this way.

‘Fibroblasts in muscle are clearly much more interesting than was previously thought. Our findings are also somewhat surprising because fibroblasts, which are present in every tissue in the body, are mainly associated with laying down scar tissue and other healing processes.’

He added: ‘Finding the triggers that either turn these cells into fat cells or activate their fate as producers of connective tissue could have important implications for our understanding of the changes in muscle which accompany ageing, obesity and disease. In the future these cells may prove to be appropriate targets for therapeutic interventions against accumulation of fatty and fibrous tissue.’

Notes to editors

For further media information please contact the Public Relations Department on 0207 848 3202 or

For further information about King's visit our 'King's in Brief' page.

News Highlights:

News Highlights...RSS FeedAtom Feed

King's to host Chevening Scholarships Programme

King's to host Chevening Scholarships Programme

King's College London is to host the Chevening Gurukul Leadership Programme, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) flagship scholarship scheme for the best and brightest minds in India. Twelve future leaders will be offered an intensive, all-expenses-paid, 12-week course at King's in December 2014.
University Challenge 2013

University Challenge 2013

A celebrity team of King's alumni, including Rory Bremner and Susan Hill, will pit their wits against the University of Southampton on New Year's Eve for a place in the semi-finals of University Challenge Christmas 2013.
Ratzinger study day

Ratzinger study day

Following the presentation of the 2013 Ratzinger Prize to The Reverend Canon Professor Richard Burridge by Pope Francis in October, a day conference entitled 'The Gospels' Connection to Jesus of Nazareth' was held on 13 December to both celebrate and discuss, in depth, the work of Professor Burridge in this important area of theology.
Sitemap Site help Terms and conditions  Privacy policy  Accessibility  Modern slavery statement  Contact us

© 2019 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454