Abundance of two human preadipocyte subtypes with distinct capacities for replication, adipogenesis, and apoptosis varies among fat depots

Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2005 Jan;288(1):E267-77. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00265.2004. Epub 2004 Sep 21.


Fat depots vary in function and size. The preadipocytes that fat cells develop from exhibit distinct regional characteristics that persist in culture. Human abdominal subcutaneous cultured preadipocytes undergo more extensive lipid accumulation, higher adipogenic transcription factor expression, and less TNF-alpha-induced apoptosis than omental preadipocytes. We found higher replicative potential in subcutaneous and mesenteric than in omental preadipocytes. In studies of colonies arising from single preadipocytes, two preadipocyte subtypes were found, one capable of more extensive replication, differentiation, and adipogenic transcription factor expression and less apoptosis in response to TNF-alpha than the other. The former was more abundant in subcutaneous and mesenteric than in omental preadipocyte populations, potentially contributing to regional variation in replication, differentiation, and apoptosis. Both subtypes were found in strains derived from single human preadipocytes stably expressing telomerase, confirming that both subtypes are of preadipocyte lineage. After subcloning of cells of either subtype, both subtypes were found, indicating that switching can occur between subtypes. Thus proportions of preadipocyte subtypes with distinct cell-dynamic properties vary among depots, potentially permitting tissue plasticity through subtype selection during development. Furthermore, mesenteric preadipocyte cell-dynamic characteristics are distinct from omental cells, indicating that visceral fat depots are not functionally uniform.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / cytology*
  • Adipose Tissue / cytology*
  • Adult
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • CCAAT-Enhancer-Binding Protein-alpha / metabolism
  • Cell Communication / physiology
  • Cell Division / physiology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Stem Cells / classification
  • Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / pharmacology


  • CCAAT-Enhancer-Binding Protein-alpha
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha