The key feature of adipocytes seems to be energy storage. Today humans in Western countries don't have to hunger and have therefore less need to store energy in fat cells.

Do adipocytes have additional functions that still make them valuable? Wikipedia lists 10–13% and 2-5% for men as essential body fat percentage for woman. What functions don't get fulfilled if the body fat percentage drops below that level?


You mentioned something odd in the tittle "adipocyte count", this was likely a mistake, but I will address it anyway. I recall something about liposuction not being preventative for diabetes:

You can have more adipocytes with less lipids in each cell, or fewer adipocytes with more lipid in each cell. Hypertrophy vs hyperplasia, just like in the question you asked on muscles elsewhere on this forum. Anyway, when a patient gets liposuction they decrease the number of adipocytes. Then if s/he gains the weight back the size of their individual adipocytes will be larger than it was before the liposuction. Somehow this was bad, and it increased insulin resistance. in a way, decreased "adipocyte count" is dangerous.

here is the other, obvious stuff on endocrine function of adipose tissue that you surely already know since your profile is very endocrine based, but anyway, here goes:

Adipose tissue has hormonal functions, secreting horomones (leptin, adiponectin, and resisting... these modify appetite as well as insulin resistance) and modifying them (converting testosterone to estrogen vi the enzyme aromatase).

The adipose-derived hormones are quite mysterious to me, I don't know much about them. The effects of the aromatase in adipose tissue are more obvious:

  • men will have increased estrogen levels (for example leading to gynecomastia aka man boobs, as a chubby guy I know this all to well)
  • women will have higher estrogen which will stimulate LH secretion from the pituitary stimulating theca intern cells in the ovary which will increase testosterone levels. The condition in women is known as PCOS.

In a person with little adipose tissues, there will be less conversion of testosterone to estrogen, so men will have less estrogen. Women will also have less estrogen, and less testosterone, aka they will not have PCOS in those women that already have PCOS, but thats not saying much :)

  • I may be wrong on some of this information, anyone please correct me.

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