Sandwiched White Adipose Tissue: A Microphysiological System of Primary Human Adipose Tissue

Tissue Eng Part C Methods. 2018 Mar;24(3):135-145. doi: 10.1089/ten.TEC.2017.0339. Epub 2018 Jan 9.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / cytology*
  • Adipocytes / metabolism
  • Adipokines / metabolism
  • Adipose Tissue, White / cytology*
  • Adipose Tissue, White / metabolism
  • Adipose Tissue, White / transplantation
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Humans
  • Lipolysis
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Middle Aged
  • Stromal Cells / cytology*
  • Stromal Cells / metabolism
  • Tissue Culture Techniques / methods*
  • Tissue Engineering / methods*


  • Adipokines