Heterogeneity among white adipose tissue depots in male C57BL/6J mice

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2012 Jan;20(1):101-11. doi: 10.1038/oby.2011.235. Epub 2011 Jul 21.


The widespread prevalence of obesity has lead to extensive research on white adipose tissue (WAT), which frequently uses the C57BL/6J mouse strain as a model. In many studies, results obtained in one WAT depot are often extrapolated to all WAT. However, functional differences among WAT depots are now becoming apparent. Thus, to identify the molecular mechanisms responsible for WAT depot-specific differences under "normal" conditions, four C57BL/6J mouse WAT depots (inguinal, mesenteric, epididymal, and retroperitoneal) were analyzed. Depot proteomic profiles, along with weights, protein contents, adipocyte sizes and oxidative stress were determined. Mesenteric WAT had almost twice the protein content of the other depots analyzed. Mean adipocyte size was highest in epididymal and lowest in mesenteric and inguinal depots. The proteome of inguinal WAT displayed low levels of enzymes involved in ATP generation, glucose and lipid metabolism, and antioxidant proteins. Higher levels of these proteins were observed in mesenteric and epididymal WAT, with variable levels in the retroperitoneal depot. Some of these proteins showed depot-specific correlations with plasma levels of insulin, leptin, and adiponectin. In agreement with the proteomic data, levels of the antioxidant protein heat shock protein β1 (HSPβ1) also were lower in inguinal WAT when analyzed by western blotting and immunohistochemistry. Also, lipid peroxidation products showed similar trends. Our results are consistent with lower triglyceride turnover and lower oxidative stress in inguinal than mesenteric and epididymal WAT. The observed WAT depot-specific differences provide clues as to the mechanisms leading to these depots' respective diverse functions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / pathology*
  • Adipose Tissue, White / pathology*
  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Gene Expression
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lipid Peroxidation* / genetics
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Obesity / genetics
  • Obesity / pathology*