Adipose tissues collectively as an endocrine organ and energy storage are crucial for systemic metabolic homeostasis. The major cell type in the adipose tissue, the adipocytes or fat cells, are remarkably plastic and can increase or decrease their size and number to adapt to changes in systemic or local metabolism. Changes in adipocyte size occur through hypertrophy or atrophy, and changes in cell numbers mainly involve de novo generation of new cells or death of existing cells. Recently, dedifferentiation, whereby a mature adipocyte is reverted to an undifferentiated progenitor-like status, has been reported as a mechanism underlying adipocyte plasticity. Dedifferentiation of mature adipocytes has been observed under both physiological and pathological conditions. This review covers several aspects of adipocyte dedifferentiation, its relevance to adipose tissue function, molecular pathways that drive dedifferentiation, and the potential of therapeutic targeting adipocyte dedifferentiation in human health and metabolic diseases.

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