Development of a Tissue Engineered Adipose Model for Studying Metabolic Disease

Wednesday, February 8, 2017 -
2:00pm to 3:00pm
The FUNG Auditorium
Rosalyn Abbott-Beauregard


Postdoctoral Scholar and Adjunct Professor

Biomedical Engineering

Tufts University

Development of a Tissue Engineered Adipose Model for Studying Metabolic Disease


Obesity predisposes individuals to a complex interaction of metabolic disorders including dyslipidemia and type 2 diabetes. As the prevalence of obesity is reaching epidemic proportions there is a critical need for monitoring physiologically relevant, sustainable, three dimensional human adipose tissue models to generate new insights and understanding of disease progression. Current human white adipose tissue engineered models often use hASCs in 2D or 3D platforms which require lengthy culture times to differentiate into premature adipocytes with multilocular lipid droplets. Mature adipocytes have a different morphology and contain unilocular lipid-filled vacuoles. Ex vivo culture of mature unilocular adipocytes is difficult; as lipid laden mature adipocytes are fragile, highly buoyant, and de-differentiate in culture. Maintenance of explants would be ideal to maintain their 3D morphology in vitro; however, explants are delicate and break up in long term culture. It was hypothesized that a silk scaffold would provide a 3D framework that would support long term stability for maintenance of ex vivo mature unilocular cells better than explant cultures. Silk is a naturally occurring and clinically accepted biocompatible material that has high mechanical strength and can be tailored to degrade slowly for long term culture. A human disease model with unilocular white adipose tissue is a substantial contribution to the field by providing a tool to study the transition from obesity to metabolic diseases such as type II diabetes. In the future this model could also be used for high throughput screening of treatments and for regenerative approaches.


Rosalyn Abbott received her B.S. and M.S degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.  She did her PhD at the University of Vermont and is currently a postdoctoral scholar and adjunct professor at Tufts University. She works in the laboratory of Dr. David Kaplan and her postdoctoral research has mainly focused on tissue-engineering approaches for adipose models. Specifically, she has focused on enhancing the longevity of cultures which will be required to model chronic diseases such as obesity in vitro. Her future research plans are aimed at studying the development of complex adipose tissue models (in vitro and in silico) to study the mechanisms and factors that drive the transition between healthy and diseased states with the ultimate goal of establishing metabolic disease and therapeutic response predictors for obesity and type II diabetes.