Dermal adipocytes contribute to the metabolic regulation of dermal fibroblasts

Zhuzhen Zhang, Ilja Kruglikov, Shangang Zhao, Zhenzhen Zi, Christy M. Gliniak, Na Li, May yun Wang, Qingzhang Zhu, Christine M. Kusminski, Philipp E. Scherer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Dermal fibroblasts are an essential population of skin cells. They are not only responsible for synthesis and remodelling of the extracellular matrix of the dermis, but also communicate with other skin cells via autocrine and paracrine interactions. Skin-associated dermal adipocytes reside below the reticular dermis. Strong lipolysis is observed during the regression of dermal adipocytes. However, the nature of the local intercellular crosstalk in which lipids released by dermal adipocytes affecting the metabolism of adjacent skin fibroblasts has not yet been examined. With the use of a series of novel mouse models that allow us to manipulate adipocytes, we demonstrate that dermal adipocytes can modulate the structure of the dermis through regulating extracellular matrix production in dermal fibroblasts. Fatty acids released by dermal adipocytes are involved in this process. Our observations offer new in vivo insights into the role of dermal adipocyte-derived lipids in influencing metabolism of adjacent local cells in the skin through a paracrine effect in the microenvironment of the dermal adipocyte.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)102-111
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental Dermatology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • dermal adipocytes
  • dermal fibroblasts
  • extracellular matrix
  • fatty acid
  • metabolic substrates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology


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