Role of Extracellular Matrix on Adipocyte Phenotype

Interdisciplinary Areas: Engineering-Medicine

Project Description

The extracellular matrix (ECM) is an insoluble network of fibrous proteins and polysaccharides that not only serves as a source of cell attachment and mechanical support, but also provides a potent source of signaling through interactions with cell receptors and by acting as a reservoir of signaling molecules. Changes in the ECM often accompany pathologies. For instance, in obesity, which affects >650 million people worldwide, hypertrophic adipocytes secrete pro-inflammatory cytokines, which recruit macrophages. Chronic adipose tissue inflammation can induce fibrosis (increased ECM deposition) and contributes to a higher risk for conditions such as type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, and osteoarthritis. Although clear and distinct changes occur in the ECM during disease progression, the bulk of research has focused on methods for directly modulating cell-cell interactions. However, recent studies underscore the potency of the ECM as a therapeutic target. We are using a reductive approach that uses an engineered materials system to identify key extracellular matrix components and properties that contribute to adipocyte phenotype.

Start Date


Postdoctoral Qualifications

*Highly motivated and independent researcher
*Excellent written and oral communication skills
*Strong publication record
*Eager to join interdisciplinary team that touches on topics in chemical engineering, materials science, and biomedical engineering


Julie Liu,, Davidson School of Chemical Engineering,

Luis Solorio,, Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering,


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N. Vázquez-Portalatín†, C.E. Kilmer†, A. Panitch, and J.C. Liu, “Characterization of Collagen Type I and II Blended Hydrogels for Articular Cartilage Tissue Engineering,” Biomacromolecules, 17, 3145-3152 (2016). †These authors contributed equally.

C.E. Kilmer, C.M. Battistoni, A. Cox, G.J. Breur, A. Panitch, and J.C. Liu, “Collagen Type I and II Blend Hydrogel with Autologous Mesenchymal Stem Cells as a Scaffold for Articular Cartilage Defect Repair,” ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering, 6, 3464-3476 (2020).