Imaging white adipose tissue with confocal microscopy

Methods Enzymol. 2014;537:17-30. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-411619-1.00002-1.


Adipose tissue is composed of a variety of cell types that include mature adipocytes, endothelial cells, fibroblasts, adipocyte progenitors, and a range of inflammatory leukocytes. These cells work in concert to promote nutrient storage in adipose tissue depots and vary widely based on location. In addition, overnutrition and obesity impart significant changes in the architecture of adipose tissue that are strongly associated with metabolic dysfunction. Recent studies have called attention to the importance of adipose tissue microenvironments in regulating adipocyte function and therefore require techniques that preserve cellular interactions and permit detailed analysis of three-dimensional structures in fat. This chapter summarizes our experience with the use of laser scanning confocal microscopy for imaging adipose tissue in rodents.

Keywords: Adipose tissue T cells; Adipose tissue macrophages; Crown-like structures; Fat-associated lymphoid structure; M1/M2 macrophages; Milky spot.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / ultrastructure*
  • Adipose Tissue, White / ultrastructure*
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Cellular Microenvironment
  • Humans
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Macrophages / pathology
  • Microscopy, Confocal / methods*
  • Obesity / genetics
  • Obesity / pathology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / pathology
  • T-Lymphocytes / ultrastructure