The Role of Fat Reducing Agents on Adipocyte Death and Adipose Tissue Inflammation

Ahava Muskat, Megan Pirtle, Yana Kost, Beth N. McLellan, Kosaku Shinoda

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Deoxycholic Acid (DCA), which is an FDA-approved compound for the reduction of submental fat, has evolved through an unanticipated and surprising sequence of events. Initially, it was used as a solvent for Phosphatidylcholine (PDC), which was thought to promote lipolysis, but it was later proven to be the bioactive component of the formula and is currently widely used as Kybella. It has also been used off-label to treat other types of fat deposits like lipomas, HIV lipodystrophy, and excess orbital fat. Despite widespread clinical use, there has been no consensus clarifying the mechanisms of DCA and PDC alone or in combination. Furthermore, despite PDC’s removal from the FDA-approved formula, some studies do suggest it plays an important role in fat reduction. To provide some clarity, we conducted a PubMed search and reviewed 41 articles using a comprehensive list of terms in three main categories, using the AND operator: 1) Phosphatidylcholines 2) Deoxycholic Acid, and 3) Lipoma. We isolated articles that studied PDC, DCA, and a PDC/DCA compound using cell biology, molecular and genetic techniques. We divided relevant articles into those that studied these components using histologic techniques and those that utilized specific cell death and lipolysis measurement techniques. Most morphologic studies indicated that PDC/DCA, DCA, and PDC, all induce some type of cell death with accompanying inflammation and fibrosis. Most morphologic studies also suggest that PDC/DCA and DCA alone are non-selective for adipocytes. Biochemical studies describing PDC and DCA alone indicate that DCA acts as a detergent and rapidly induces necrosis while PDC induces TNF-α release, apoptosis, and subsequent enzymatic lipolysis after at least 24 hours. Additional papers have suggested a synergistic effect between the two compounds. Our review integrates the findings of this growing body of literature into a proposed mechanism of fat reduction and provides direction for further studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number841889
JournalFrontiers in Endocrinology
StatePublished - Mar 24 2022


  • TNF - α
  • adipocyte
  • apoptosis
  • deoxycholic acid
  • lipolysis
  • necrosis
  • phosphatidylcholine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


Dive into the research topics of 'The Role of Fat Reducing Agents on Adipocyte Death and Adipose Tissue Inflammation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this