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.

Kirsty Spalding's group with face masks posing togheter for the group picture.
Shuai Lang, Lena Appelsved, Beata Vekeriotaitė, Niels Krämer, Aresht Fathalla, Benjamin Dedic, Andrea Mosqueda Solis, Kirsty Spalding. Department of Cell and Molecular Biology.

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.

Genre picture
Adipose tissue

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

Originally from Australia, I completed my PhD in the field of neuroscience at the University of Western Australia. This was followed by postdoctoral studies at the Karolinska Institute, Sweden, where I switched from studying neuronal cell death to neuronal birth. During the later stages of my postdoctoral period I started a side project looking at fat cell turnover in human adipose tissue. This project developed in to several more projects and now the major interest of my research group is the turnover and maintenance of human adipose tissue, in health and pathology.

Location: Biomedicum A0763

Lena Appelsved

Laboratory engineer

I have a Bachelor of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at KI. I have been working in the Spalding group as a lab manager since 2012. Between 1993 and 2012 I was working as a research scientist at AstraZeneca R&D, CNS and Pain. I have 3 years experience at a Clinical Immunology lab at Huddinge hospital as a laboratory technician. I have many administrative tasks in the group, but also contribute to various scientific project.

Location: Biomedicum A0759

Christina Jones


I am investigating podocyte regeneration in the human kidney, using radiocarbon dating of human cells to define cell turnover dynamics in kidney health and disease.

Qian Li

PhD student

I am studying the biological mechanisms underlying adipocyte turnover and obesity development, performing in vivo and in vitro studies with mouse and human white adipose tissues.

Keng-Yeh Fu

PhD student

I am investigating human mature adipocyte and preadipocyte turnover rates from both visceral and subcutaneous fat depots using radiocarbon dating, in lean and obese individuals.

Location: Biomedicum A0750

Niels Krämer

PhD student

After completing a master’s degree in medical epigenomics at the Radboud University, I am currently working as a doctoral student in Kirsty’s group. Here I study the browning potential of mature white adipocytes using fluorescence microscopy, qPCR and other techniques from molecular biology. 

Location: Biomedicum A0759

Helena Silva Cascales


I am studying the molecular mechanisms mediating adipocyte turnover in white adipose tissue from healthy and metabolically unhealthy patients to understand the factors that contribute to the development of metabolic disease.

Andrea Mosqueda


I complete my PhD in Nutrigenomics and Personalized Nutrition. The aim of my postdoctoral fellowship is to understand whether adipose tissue consist of subsets of adipocytes with different functions, potentially coming from different origins, the project investigates the heterogeneity of human adipocytes.

Location: Biomedicum A0759

Arthe Raajendiran


I have a background in human adipocyte progenitor cells and their functional heterogeneity. I focus on deconstructing mature adipocyte heterogeneity at a single-cell level to identify the subsets of adipocytes promoting metabolic health and disease in humans.

Paloma Ruiz de Castroviejo Teba


After finishing my bachelor in biochemistry, I am now in Kirsty Spalding's group participating in the kidney regeneration project.

Previous members in the group
Previous members in the group
Maria Azorin Ortũno Viviana Kozina
Debajit Bhowmick Parvin Kumar
Carolina Hagberg Maria Kutschke
Mervi Hyvönen Pauline Ocaya
Manizheh Izadi Beatriz Rosón Burgo
Banafsheh Kadkhodaei Firoozeh Salehzadeh
Azadeh Khosravi Olga Shilkova
Anitta Kinga Sárvári Eleni Terezaki
Endre Kiss

Selected Publications

Adipose lipid turnover and long-term changes in body weight.
Arner P, Bernard S, Appelsved L, Fu KY, Andersson DP, Salehpour M, et al
Nat. Med. 2019 09;25(9):1385-1389

Mature Human White Adipocytes Cultured under Membranes Maintain Identity, Function, and Can Transdifferentiate into Brown-like Adipocytes.
Harms MJ, Li Q, Lee S, Zhang C, Kull B, Hallen S, et al
Cell Rep 2019 04;27(1):213-225.e5

Comprehensive human cell-type methylation atlas reveals origins of circulating cell-free DNA in health and disease.
Moss J, Magenheim J, Neiman D, Zemmour H, Loyfer N, Korach A, et al
Nat Commun 2018 11;9(1):5068

Transforming Growth Factor-β3 Regulates Adipocyte Number in Subcutaneous White Adipose Tissue.
Petrus P, Mejhert N, Corrales P, Lecoutre S, Li Q, Maldonado E, et al
Cell Rep 2018 10;25(3):551-560.e5

Flow Cytometry of Mouse and Human Adipocytes for the Analysis of Browning and Cellular Heterogeneity.
Hagberg CE, Li Q, Kutschke M, Bhowmick D, Kiss E, Shabalina IG, et al
Cell Rep 2018 09;24(10):2746-2756.e5