Fat-Holding Pigment #2

By Atom Bergstrom

Atom’s Blog

Despite the divergence of opinion over a hundred years ago, scientists knew more about Yellow Fat Disease than they know today.

And an even greater divergence of opinion exists today.

But one thing IS for sure — Yellow Fat Disease measures the velocity of aging.


Subhash Kashyap, Vinay Shanker, & Neeraj Sharma (“Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome,” Indian Dermatology Online Journal, Oct.-Dec. 2014) wrote …

“Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome is a rare genetic disorder characterized by premature aging involving the skin, bones, heart, and blood vessels. We report a three-year-old boy with clinical manifestations characteristic of this syndrome. He had a characteristic ‘plucked-bird’ appearance, prominent eyes and scalp veins, senile look, loss of scalp hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes, stunted growth, and mottled pigmentation with sclerodermatous changes over the trunk and lower limbs.”

According to the same source …

“Radiography changes manifest within the second year of life. There is diffuse osteopenia, acro-osteolysis of the phalanges and distal clavicles, but bone age is normal. Hyaluronic acid excretion is increased from fibroblasts and there is extensive lipofuscin deposition.”


David H. Dolley & Frances V. Guthrie (“The Pigmentation of Nerve Cells,” The Journal of Medical Research, Sept. 1918) wrote …

“For Sehrt the pigment of nerve cells is seemingly entirely a fat-holding pigment, though his notes on the substantia nigra, for example, read as follows: ‘In many cases there is no reaction. In others great diversity of colorability. Often only the finest granular pigment of the smallest cells is colored, while the larger pigment masses remain completely negative; yet here there is in some cases a most intense reaction.’ With age, he says, the pigment becomes somewhat similar to the melanotic, but the inference appears to be that there is no melanin proper. In short, he generalizes from a part to the whole, a criticism which is also made by Hueck (p. 72).

“Oberndorfer (’02), working rather incidentally with the local ganglion cells in a study of the seminal vesicles, rested his conclusion of the combination of their pigment with fat solely upon the osmic-acid reaction.

“Obersteiner (’03, ’04) distinguished the same forms of pigment as Rosin, a dark brown and a light yellow. According to him, the dark-brown pigment occurs in two places, the substantia nigra and the locus caeruleus, the yellow fatty pigment in the remaining parts of the nervous system.

“Calligaris (’08) made also the distinction between the yellow ‘pseudo-pigment, lipochrome,’ and the black ‘true’ pigment (as cited by Hueck), the latter a melanin. He describes the black pigment as present in the vagus nucleus, the spinal ganglia, the locus caeruleus and the substantia nigra, while the fatty pigment may occur with it.

“Neumann (’09) found a lipochrome, reacting blue with iodin[e], but otherwise characteristically, to be a widespread and regular constituent of spinal and sympathetic ganglion cells of the frog. It was identical with the pigment both of atrophic fatty tissue and of the cells of Schwann’s sheath of the nerve fiber, but different from the fatty pigment in mammals. He also accepts the occurrence of non-fatty pigment in mammals.

“The position of Mühlmann (’11) is quite opposed to the predominant conclusion of the duality of pigment. He maintains that the pigments are identical, that it is all a fatty pigment at the beginning, but that with age the fatty property is lost. The tacit inference, Hueck says, is that the melanotic gradually develops out of the fatty.

“The work of Hueck (’12) is an extensive microchemical study of the various endogenous pigments. The collective survey enables him to point out clearly the confusion and error resulting from limited and one-sided investigations, and his paper abounds in points relevant to our own study, which must be passed over. Hueck determines a melanin and a lipofuscin in nerve cells. The melanin has no characteristic which distinguishes it from melanin elsewhere, and must be placed in that group until new reactions become known. Further, the melanin is not limited in distribution to any particular regions, in opposition to the common belief which has cropped out in the preceding reports, but which our work wholly discredits. There are, however, the same variations of distribution which will receive later attention.

“The term lipofuscin is Borst’s. It refers to the brown waste pigments which through oxidation are converted from lipoid substances or perhaps fatty acids. Hueck regards the lipofuscin as a normal finding, — a ‘wear-and-tear’ product in the physiological sense. It is not always easy to distinguish between the melanin and the lipofuscin, and they may be very intimately mixed — even the same granule may contain both. The processes of formation also tend to occur together, though each pigment was found separately. This work was also done on human material.”

(To Be Continued)


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