White adipose tissue (WAT) is a critical organ in both health and disease. However, physiologically faithful tissue culture models of primary human WAT remain limited, at best. In this study we describe a novel WAT culture system in which primary human WAT is sandwiched between tissue-engineered sheets of adipose-derived stromal cells. This construct, called "sandwiched white adipose tissue" (SWAT), can be defined as a microphysiological system (MPS) since it is a tissue-engineered, multicellular, three-dimensional organ construct produced using human cells. We validated SWAT against the National Institutes of Health MPS standards and found that SWAT is viable in culture for 8 weeks, retains physiologic responses to exogenous signaling, secretes adipokines, and engrafts into animal models. These attributes position SWAT as a powerful tool for the study of WAT physiology, pathophysiology, personalized medicine, and pharmaceutical development.
Keywords: SWAT; fat culture; microphysiological system; tissue engineering; white adipose tissue.