Fibrosis is a hallmark of human white adipose tissue (WAT) during obesity-induced chronic inflammation. The functional impact of increased interstitial fibrosis (peri-adipocyte fibrosis) on adjacent adipocytes remains unknown. Here we developed a novel in vitro 3D culture system in which human adipocytes and decellularized material of adipose tissue (dMAT) from obese subjects are embedded in a peptide hydrogel. When cultured with dMAT, adipocytes showed decreased lipolysis and adipokine secretion and increased expression/production of cytokines (IL-6, G-CSF) and fibrotic mediators (LOXL2 and the matricellular proteins THSB2 and CTGF). Moreover, some alterations including lipolytic activity and fibro-inflammation also occurred when the adipocyte/hydrogel culture was mechanically compressed. Notably, CTGF expression levels correlated with the amount of peri-adipocyte fibrosis in WAT from obese individuals. Moreover, dMAT-dependent CTGF promoter activity, which depends on β1-integrin/cytoskeleton pathways, was enhanced in the presence of YAP, a mechanosensitive co-activator of TEAD transcription factors. Mutation of TEAD binding sites abolished the dMAT-induced promoter activity. In conclusion, fibrosis may negatively affect human adipocyte function via mechanosensitive molecules, in part stimulated by cell deformation.
Keywords: 3D culture; adipocytes; fibrosis; human obesity.
Copyright © 2014 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.