Context: Adipocyte formation in human adult adipose tissue (hAT) originates from resident progenitor cell differentiation in the stroma vascular fraction of the AT. The processes involved in the self-renewal of this cell population remain to be defined.
Objective: The objective was to study in situ and in vitro hAT progenitor cell (defined as CD34(+)/CD31(-) cells) proliferation.
Design and participants: In situ progenitor cell proliferation was assessed by immunohistochemistry and flow cytometry analyses on hAT from lean to obese subjects using the proliferation marker Ki-67. The effects of adipokines, hypoxia, and conditioned media (CM) from adipocytes, capillary endothelial cells, and macrophages isolated by an immunoselection approach were studied on hAT progenitor cell growth. Cell death in hAT was assessed by the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP-fluorescein end labeling method.
Results: Ki-67-positive staining was observed in AT progenitor cells. Fat mass enlargement in obese patients was associated with an increased Ki-67(+) progenitor cell population together with a new fraction of small adipocytes and increased cell death. HIF-1alpha mRNA expression in freshly harvested progenitor cells was positively correlated with body mass index. Adipocyte- and capillary endothelial cell-CM, hypoxia, leptin, IL-6, lysophosphatidic acid, and vascular endothelial growth factor, all increased hAT progenitor cell proliferation in vitro. Macrophage-CM had an antiproliferative effect that was suppressed by an antioxidant.
Conclusions: The fraction of proliferative progenitor cells in adult hAT is modulated by the degree of adiposity. Changes in the progenitor cell microenvironment involving adipokines, hypoxia, and oxidative stress might play a key role in the control of the self-renewal of the local pool of AT progenitor cells.