Nutrition Alters the Stiffness of Adipose Tissue and Cell Signaling

Alex Naftaly, Nadav Kislev, Roza Izgilov, Raizel Adler, Michal Silber, Ruth Shalgi, Dafna Benayahu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Adipose tissue is a complex organ composed of various cell types and an extracellular matrix (ECM). The visceral adipose tissue (VAT) is dynamically altered in response to nutritional regimens that lead to local cues affecting the cells and ECM. The adipocytes are in conjunction with the surrounding ECM that maintains the tissue’s niche, provides a scaffold for cells and modulates their signaling. In this study, we provide a better understanding of the crosstalk between nutritional regimens and the ECM’s stiffness. Histological analyses showed that the adipocytes in mice fed a high-fat diet (HFD) were increased in size, while the ECM was also altered with changes in mass and composition. HFD-fed mice exhibited a decrease in elastin and an increase in collagenous proteins. Rheometer measurements revealed a stiffer ECM in whole tissue (nECM) and decellularized (deECM) in HFD-fed animals. These alterations in the ECM regulate cellular activity and influence their metabolic function. HFD-fed mice expressed high levels of the receptor for advanced-glycation-end-products (RAGE), indicating that AGEs might play a role in these processes. The cells also exhibited an increase in phosphoserine332 of IRS-1, a decrease in the GLUT4 transporter levels at the cells’ membrane, and a consequent reduction in insulin sensitivity. These results show how alterations in the stiffness of ECM proteins can affect the mechanical cues transferred to adipocytes and, thereby, influence the adipocytes’ functionality, leading to metabolic disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15237
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • adipose tissue
  • high-fat diet
  • niche stiffness


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