Kirsty Spalding's Group

Our lab is primarily interested in investigating the origin and turnover of adipocytes, their progenitor cells and lipid stores in lean and obese individuals.

Obesity is increasing in an epidemic manner in most countries and constitutes a public health problem by enhancing the risk for diseases such as diabetes, fatty liver disease and atherosclerosis. Together these diseases form a cluster referred to as the metabolic syndrome.

An important factor behind obesity complications is the fat cell (adipocyte). Adipocytes release large amounts of free fatty acids which regulate insulin action and the metabolism of glucose and lipids in skeletal muscle and liver. They also secrete hormones, inflammatory proteins and other substances with peripheral effects on blood vessels, appetite, energy homeostasis, blood pressure and glucose as well as lipid metabolism. Thus, disturbances in the normal functioning of fat cells have significant consequences on the health of an individual. Despite the importance of the fat mass very little is known about the maintenance of fat cells in humans, how different fat depots are regulated and how, or if, this is altered in obesity. 

Lipid turnover and cell age are studied using radiocarbon dating. By studying cell turnover in a variety of different adipose depots (such as various subcutaneous adipose depots as well as visceral depots) we aim to better understand the regulation of the fat mass in humans. Understanding the dynamics of adipocyte turnover may shed new light on potential treatments for obesity.

Group Members

Kirsty Spalding, Senior researcher    
Lena Appelsved, Laboratory engineer    
Endre Kiss, Research technician    
Carolina Hagberg    
Firoozeh Salehzadeh, Postdoc    
Viviana Kozina, Postdoc    
Christina Jones, Postdoc    
Qian Li, PhD student    
Keng-Yeh Fu, Graduate Student    
Debajit Bhowmick, Laboratory technician    
Olga Shilkova, Senior lab manager    
Maria Kutschke, Laboratory technician    
Beatriz Rosón Burgo, Postdoc    
Nahida Arifen, Master student    

Selected Publications

Dynamics of human adipose lipid turnover in health and metabolic disease.
Arner P, Bernard S, Salehpour M, Possnert G, Liebl J, Steier P, et al
Nature 2011 Sep;478(7367):110-3

Bernard S, Frisén J, Spalding KL (2010) A mathematical model for the interpretation of nuclear bomb test derived 14C incorporation in biological systems. Nuc Inst and Methods in Physics Res B 268(7-8):1295-1298.

Dynamics of fat cell turnover in humans.
Spalding K, Arner E, Westermark P, Bernard S, Buchholz B, Bergmann O, et al
Nature 2008 Jun;453(7196):783-7

Forensics: age written in teeth by nuclear tests.
Spalding K, Buchholz B, Bergman L, Druid H, Frisén J
Nature 2005 Sep;437(7057):333-4

Retrospective birth dating of cells in humans.
Spalding K, Bhardwaj R, Buchholz B, Druid H, Frisén J
Cell 2005 Jul;122(1):133-43

Developmental BiologyObesityStem Cell Biology