Anthony Ferrante, MD, PhD

In people and other mammals, excess calories are primarily stored in fat. However, beyond being a simple depot for storage, fat (or adipose tissue) is a dynamic tissue that secretes hormones and plays an important role in regulating metabolic functions, including glucose utilization, lipid and cholesterol metabolism, and body weight. The Ferrante laboratory studies the biology of adipose tissue and how it interacts with other systems of the body, including the immune, central nervous, and gastrointestinal systems to determine metabolic health. 

The current research in the Ferrante laboratory includes studies to understand how immune cells in adipose tissue participate in maintaining lipid homeostasis and the healthy function of fat and how impairment of immune function in obesity can contribute to systemic metabolic diseases like diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and susceptibility to infectious diseases. Separate studies in the laboratory have uncovered a system that defends against body weight gain and prevents weight gain. This neuroendocrine system is activated when mice or humans are overfed, and while it requires leptin, the signal that reduces food intake and induces weight loss if animals are overfed, it is not leptin and remains unknown. Efforts are now directed at identifying factors secreted by adipose tissue in response to overfeeding and mapping areas of the brain that are activated during the defense against weight gain. 

Recent Publications

  • Ravussin Y, Edwin E, Gallop  M, Xu L, Bartolomé A, Kraakman MJ, LeDuc CA, Ferrante AW Jr. Evidence for a non-leptin system that defends against weight gain in overfeeding. Cell Metabolism 2018 Aug 7;28(2):289-299. 
  • Flaherty III SE, Grijalva A, Xu X, Ables E, Nomani A, Ferrante AW Jr. A lipase-independent pathway of lipid release and immune modulation by adipocytes. Science 2019 Mar 1(6430);363:989-993. 
  • Gallop MR, Wilson VC, Ferrante AW Jr. Post-oral sensing of fat increases food intake and attenuates body weight defense. Cell Reports 2021 Oct 19;37(3):109845. 

Learn About Ferrante Lab