Quantitation of adipose conversion and triglycerides by staining intracytoplasmic lipids with Oil red O

Histochemistry. 1992 Jul;97(6):493-7. doi: 10.1007/BF00316069.


Cultured 3T3-F442A cells differentiate into adipocytes and accumulate lipid droplets in the cytoplasm. When fat cells are stained with Oil red O, the degree of staining seems to be proportional to the extent of cell differentiation. We report here a fast and simple method to quantitate the extent of adipose conversion by staining the accumulated lipid with Oil red O and determining the amount of extracted dye at 510 nm. The results show that Oil red O specifically stains triglycerides and cholesteryl oleate but no other lipids. This technique is a valuable tool for processing large numbers of cell cultures or samples in which adipose differentiation and/or accumulated triglycerides is to be quantitated.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3T3 Cells
  • Adipose Tissue / chemistry*
  • Adipose Tissue / cytology
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Azo Compounds*
  • Biotin / deficiency
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cholesterol Esters / analysis
  • Cytoplasm / chemistry
  • Glycerolphosphate Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Lipids / analysis*
  • Mice
  • Staining and Labeling / methods
  • Triglycerides / analysis*


  • Azo Compounds
  • Cholesterol Esters
  • Lipids
  • Triglycerides
  • cholesteryl oleate
  • Biotin
  • Glycerolphosphate Dehydrogenase
  • oil red O