Thesis Defense Announcement
To: The George Mason University Community
Candidate: Maria A. Keaton
Program: M.S. in Biology
Date: Friday May 30, 2014
Time: 11:00 a.m.
Place: George Mason University
Prince William Campus
Bull Run Hall, Room 257
Title: "A Study of the Systemic Inflammation and the Brown Adipose Cells Embedded in Visceral Adipose of Obese Patients"
Thesis Director: Dr. Ancha Baranova
Thesis Committee: Dr. Karl J. Fryxell, Dr. Aybike Birerdinc
A copy of the thesis will be available in the Mercer Library. All are invited to attend the defense.
Obesity has become a major epidemic, not just in the US, but in many other industrialized nations around the world. Obesity has risen due to the natural conflict between availability of calorie-rich foods and energy efficient metabolisms naturally selected for tens of thousands of years in the past. Unfortunately, obesity is detrimental to health as it is associated with a number of chronic conditions including type II diabetes and liver disease. This study explores the effects of the accumulation of visceral adipose on systemic inflammation as measured within adipose itself, in circulation, and in the liver parenchyma. The cross-talk between omental deposits of adipose and liver was analyzed by profiling serum cytokine levels, adipose gene expression, and liver biopsy histopathology for 241 morbidly obese patients undergoing bariatric surgery. We showed that the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines increase in parallel with an increase in severity of liver disease while the levels of anti-inflammatory factors decrease. Additionally, we studied expression levels of genes that define the differentiation and activity of brown adipose cells within visceral adipose collected from the same cohort of morbidly obese subjects. We showed that expression levels for genes specific for brown adipose tissue decrease proportionally to an increase in both serum and histological indicators of systemic inflammation. Importantly, our study is the first to provide evidence that scattered brown adipocytes may be present in visceral adipose of morbidly obese subjects, and that their numbers of activity may diminish with an increase in systemic inflammation associated with obesity and metabolic syndrome.