Research Project 1

Cell biology and protein expression studies on adipocytes
of lipedema patients compared to healthy patients

Objective: The cause of lipedema is unknown. A genetic component is assumed on the basis of positive family history, as well as a hormonal component due to the almost exclusively female patients and an outbreak of the disease or its progression in the phases of hormonal changes. In addition, a certain "vascular fragility" is noticeable in lipedema patients, which can lead to hematomas on the extremities even with slight trauma. Due to the lack of scientific data on the pathogenesis of lipedema, the aim of this study was to shed light on the molecular etiopathogenesis of this disease.


Methods: The lipoaspirates from the medio-lateral thigh area of 10 lipedema patients were obtained by means of power-assisted liposuction (PAL). Lipoaspirates from 10 patients without lipedema (esthetic indication) from the same anatomical region served as comparison group. From the lipoaspirates mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) were isolated and briefly cultured. This was followed by differentiation of the adipocytes obtained and the quantitative measurement of the expressed factors by means of ELISA.


Results: Significantly increased protein expression of pro-inflammatory factors and a significant difference in adipocyte differentiation compared to control groups were found. Certain key factors were significantly reduced in supernatants of cell cultures of lipedema cells. There were also differences in metabolic factors.


Conclusion: Results to date show that the diseased adipose tissue of lipedema is pre-adipocytes, which differ in differentiation and protein expression from pre-adipocytes from adipose tissue of patients who are not suffering from lipedema.