PDGFRα/PDGFRβ signaling balance modulates progenitor cell differentiation into white and beige adipocytes

Development. 2018 Jan 4;145(1):dev155861. doi: 10.1242/dev.155861.


The relative abundance of thermogenic beige adipocytes and lipid-storing white adipocytes in adipose tissue underlie its metabolic activity. The roles of adipocyte progenitor cells, which express PDGFRα or PDGFRβ, in adipose tissue function have remained unclear. Here, by defining the developmental timing of PDGFRα and PDGFRβ expression in mouse subcutaneous and visceral adipose depots, we uncover depot specificity of pre-adipocyte delineation. We demonstrate that PDGFRα expression precedes PDGFRβ expression in all subcutaneous but in only a fraction of visceral adipose stromal cells. We show that high-fat diet feeding or thermoneutrality in early postnatal development can induce PDGFRβ+ lineage recruitment to generate white adipocytes. In contrast, the contribution of PDGFRβ+ lineage to beige adipocytes is minimal. We provide evidence that human adipose tissue also contains distinct progenitor populations differentiating into beige or white adipocytes, depending on PDGFRβ expression. Based on PDGFRα or PDGFRβ deletion and ectopic expression experiments, we conclude that the PDGFRα/PDGFRβ signaling balance determines progenitor commitment to beige (PDGFRα) or white (PDGFRβ) adipogenesis. Our study suggests that adipocyte lineage specification and metabolism can be modulated through PDGFR signaling.

Keywords: Adipocyte; Adipose tissue; PDGFR; Progenitor; White and brown adipogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes, Beige / cytology
  • Adipocytes, Beige / metabolism*
  • Adipocytes, White / cytology
  • Adipocytes, White / metabolism*
  • Adipogenesis / physiology*
  • Adipose Tissue / cytology
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Receptor, Platelet-Derived Growth Factor alpha / genetics
  • Receptor, Platelet-Derived Growth Factor alpha / metabolism*
  • Receptor, Platelet-Derived Growth Factor beta / genetics
  • Receptor, Platelet-Derived Growth Factor beta / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Stem Cells / cytology
  • Stem Cells / metabolism*


  • PDGFRB protein, human
  • Receptor, Platelet-Derived Growth Factor alpha
  • Receptor, Platelet-Derived Growth Factor beta