Guest Post: Adipocytes

Today we bring you a piece of 100-word microfiction by my husband Jason, who finally humored me and wrote a drabble of his own!

A Weighty Matter

When Winston had first discovered the equation that would allow for instantaneous matter transportation, he knew he would revolutionize the world.  The only problem he foresaw was the energy cost.  It started relatively small, requiring only the wattage of a lightbulb.  For larger objects, though, the cost grew exponentially.

So he set a cap on how much mass could be transported at once.  Enough for a modestly sized person to pass through.

But after someone lied about their mass and left a pile of oozing white goo on the platform, he knew exactly how he’d revolutionize the world: instant liposuction.


Adipocytes (Photo credit: Pazit Polak)

Jason and I both wrote adipocyte-themed stories last week when I was working on Endemic! Week. His story was so awesome that I thought it deserved a post of its own. Adipocytes are fat cells, also called lipocytes. They’re an important connective tissue in our bodies, playing a role in energy storage, physical protection, and heat production. Adipocytes surround and anchor our eyeballs, for example, as well as our kidneys.

While we often associate adipocytes with weight gain, it’s important to remember that some fat is critical to the healthy operation of our bodies. Aside from the functions already listed, did you know that dietary fat is critical for brain development? We are born with our brains unfinished. Around 14 weeks into fetal development, a process called myelination starts in our nerves. This is when the brain starts wrapping nerves in a substance called myelin, which is mostly made up of dietary fat. It’s sort of like covering bare wires in insulation. Myelinated nerves conduct signals around the body much more rapidly than their unmyelinated counterparts.

Nerves wrapped in myelin form the “white matter” of your brain, while the variety without myelin forms the “gray matter”.

What happens if you don’t have enough myelin covering your white matter? Well, the nerve signals get disrupted. The disease multiple sclerosis, also called MS, is an illness where the myelin sheaths covering the nerves break drown. MS results in a huge variety of symptoms, depending on which nerves degenerate first: blindness, speech problems, tremors, or numbness, for starters.

Hopefully Winston’s liposuction transporter can tell the difference between wanted and unwanted fat in the body. Otherwise his patients might leave a little brain behind them.


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