Dr. Tseng’s lab investigates cellular and molecular regulation of adipocyte differentiation and function. The specific areas of focus are on the role of developmental signals in brown versus white adipose cell fate, the identification and characterization of progenitor/stem cells that give rise to different adipose depots, and the integration of genetic and humoral factors on thermoregulation and whole body energy homeostasis.
Obesity, mainly characterized by increased adiposity, has reached pandemic proportions and is a major contributor to metabolic disorders. In mammals, white fat is the primary site of energy storage, while brown fat and the recruited brown-like beige fat are specialized for thermogenic energy expenditure. Owing to the great capacity of BAT to combust fuels for heat production and the presence of BAT in adult humans, increasing the amount or activity of brown or beige fat has been considered to be an appealing approach for the treatment or prevention of obesity and related metabolic disorders.
Work from Dr. Tseng’s lab has helped establish the role of bone morphogenetic proteins in brown fat biology. They have uncovered a novel cross-talk between the constitutive brown and recruitable beige adipose depots. Additionally, Tseng and her colleagues demonstrated that adult human brown fat is present in defined neck locations and have identified novel genetic biomarkers in human adipose precursors that predict the thermogenic potential of the cells once they are matured. Their recent work has discovered a novel brown fat-derived lipid mediator that promotes fuel utilization and heat production. Ongoing research in Dr. Tseng’s laboratory continues to explore brown and beige fat in physiological and pathophysiological conditions and has taken a broad-based approach to understand the mechanisms that underlie these processes, including cellular and molecular analysis, transgenic models, in vitro and in vivo imaging, and multi-omics profiling.