A multiscale modeling framework for studying the mechanobiology of sarcopenic obesity

Naama Shoham, Ayelet Levy, Nogah Shabshin, Dafna Benayahu, Amit Gefen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


An inactive sedentary lifestyle is a common risk factor contributing to sarcopenic obesity. At the cell scale, sustained mechanical deformations of the plasma membrane (PM) in adipocytes, characterizing chronic static loading in weight-bearing tissues during prolonged sitting or lying, were found to promote adipogenesis. Taking a mechanobiological perspective, we correlated here the macroscale mechanical deformations of weight-bearing adipose tissues (subcutaneous and intramuscular) with mechanical strains developing in the PMs of differentiating adipocytes. An innovative multiscale modeling framework for adipose tissues was developed for this purpose, where the buttocks, adipose tissues, adipocytes and the subcellular components: intracytoplasmic nucleus and lipid droplets as well as the PMs of the cells, were all represented. We found that a positive feedback loop very likely exists and is involved in the onset and progression of sarcopenic obesity, as follows. Adipogenesis in statically deformed adipocytes results in gaining more macroscopic subcutaneous and intramuscular fat mass, which then increases fat deformations macroscopically and microscopically, and hence triggers additional adipogenesis, and so on. Our present study is highly relevant in research of sarcopenic obesity and other adipose-related diseases such as diabetes, since mechanical distortion of adipocytes promotes adipogenesis and fat gain at the different dimensional scales.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-295
Number of pages21
JournalBiomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2017


FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation611/12, 1266/16


    • Adipogenesis
    • Adipose tissue
    • Finite element model
    • Mechanotransduction


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