adipose tissue(redirected from Fat cells)
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a type of connective tissue in animals, formed from the mesenchyma and consisting of fat cells.
A fat cell, whose specific function is fat accumulation and metabolism, is almost entirely filled with a fat drop surrounded by a ring of cytoplasm. The nucleus is pushed into the periphery. In vertebrates, adipose tissue is found mostly under the skin (subcutaneous), in the omentum, and between organs, forming a soft, elastic padding. The main physiological functions of adipose tissue are to serve as an energy depot (the amount of fat decreases in the cells during starvation and increases when nourishment is increased) and to prevent the body from losing heat. In aquatic mammals living in the cold waters of the arctic and antarctic, the layer of subcutaneous adipose tissue is very thick (as much as 50 cm in some whales). Excessive development of adipose tissue in man leads to obesity.