The regulatory events guiding progenitor activation and differentiation in adult white adipose tissue are largely unknown. We report that induction of brown adipogenesis by β3-adrenergic receptor (ADRB3) activation involves the death of white adipocytes and their removal by M2-polarized macrophages. Recruited macrophages express high levels of osteopontin (OPN), which attracts a subpopulation of PDGFRα+ progenitors expressing CD44, a receptor for OPN. Preadipocyte proliferation is highly targeted to sites of adipocyte clearance and occurs almost exclusively in the PDGFRα+ CD44+ subpopulation. Knockout of OPN prevents formation of crown-like structures by ADRB3 activation and the recruitment, proliferation, and differentiation of preadipocytes. The recruitment and differentiation of PDGFRα+ progenitors are also observed following physical injury, during matrix-induced neogenesis, and in response to high-fat feeding. Each of these conditions recruits macrophages having a unique polarization signature, which may explain the timing of progenitor activation and the fate of these cells in vivo.
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