Using a 3D Culture System to Differentiate Visceral Adipocytes In Vitro

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It has long been recognized that body fat distribution and regional adiposity play a major role in the control of metabolic homeostasis. However, the ability to study and compare the cell autonomous regulation and response of adipocytes from different fat depots has been hampered by the difficulty of inducing preadipocytes isolated from the visceral depot to differentiate into mature adipocytes in culture. Here, we present an easily created 3-dimensional (3D) culture system that can be used to differentiate preadipocytes from the visceral depot as robustly as those from the sc depot. The cells differentiated in these 3D collagen gels are mature adipocytes that retain depot-specific characteristics, as determined by imaging, gene expression, and functional assays. This 3D culture system therefore allows for study of the development and function of adipocytes from both depots in vitro and may ultimately lead to a greater understanding of site-specific functional differences of adipose tissues to metabolic dysregulation.

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