By Dr. Mayoura Keophiphath and Chloe Belles
The adipose tissue is no longer considered to be a simple fat storage for energy homeostasis. It’s now recognized as a real organ which secretes molecules or adipokines which can influence the biology of other organs and tissues including the skin.
The adipose tissue is classified according to its colour and anatomical location. The white adipose tissue (WAT) with its energetic function is the most abundant in the human body whereas the brown adipose tissue (BAT), specialized in thermogenesis, present in new-borns, gradually disappears with age. Beige adipose tissue, a mix of both, has been recently discovered and is a new target for cosmetic and health products. WAT is also divided into a visceral deposit at abdominal location and a subcutaneous (sc) one, more generally distributed and directly under the skin. More and more studies are investigating the role of scWAT, especially of the hypodermis connected to the dermis, in cutaneous biology during ageing. Skin ageing is mainly characterized by the progressive appearance of wrinkles, a cutaneous thinning and a loss of firmness and elasticity. Ageing could be accelerated through the accumulation of external aggravating factors including nutrition, stress, tobacco or exposure to pollution and ultraviolet (UV) irradiation. Interestingly, WAT is a privileged area for storing environmental contaminants. Several studies have shown that persistent organic pollutants (POPs), which are hydrophilic and resistant to degradation, accumulate in adipose tissue, inside the lipid droplets of adipocytes.
Even if WAT plays a protective role by decreasing the acute toxicity of the pollutants to the rest of human body, this accumulation in WAT causes a low grade and chronic exposure and may have deleterious effects on its biology and metabolism and those of the surrounding tissues and organs. Indeed, any modulation of WAT such as a weight loss may lead to a systemic release of pollutants and could contribute to the development of metabolic complications and skin alterations. POPs are known to exert pro-inflammatory, prolipogenic and lipotoxic effects and to have negative effects on human health including skin toxicity, immunotoxicity, neurotoxicity, negative effects on reproduction, teratogenicity, endocrine disruption, and a predisposition to cancer.
Doctor Mayoura Keophiphath
Founded and runs D.I.V.A. Expertise, a laboratory specialising in research into the biology of human adipose tissue.
Doctor Chloe Belles
She is the project manager in charge of R&D studies.