Identification of functionally distinct fibro-inflammatory and adipogenic stromal subpopulations in visceral adipose tissue of adult mice

Elife. 2018 Sep 28;7:e39636. doi: 10.7554/eLife.39636.


White adipose tissue (WAT) remodeling is dictated by coordinated interactions between adipocytes and resident stromal-vascular cells; however, the functional heterogeneity of adipose stromal cells has remained unresolved. We combined single-cell RNA-sequencing and FACS to identify and isolate functionally distinct subpopulations of PDGFRβ+ stromal cells within visceral WAT of adult mice. LY6C- CD9- PDGFRβ+ cells represent highly adipogenic visceral adipocyte precursor cells ('APCs'), whereas LY6C+ PDGFRβ+ cells represent fibro-inflammatory progenitors ('FIPs'). FIPs lack adipogenic capacity, display pro-fibrogenic/pro-inflammatory phenotypes, and can exert an anti-adipogenic effect on APCs. The pro-inflammatory phenotype of PDGFRβ+ cells is regulated, at least in part, by NR4A nuclear receptors. These data highlight the functional heterogeneity of visceral WAT perivascular cells, and provide insight into potential cell-cell interactions impacting adipogenesis and inflammation. These improved strategies to isolate FIPs and APCs from visceral WAT will facilitate the study of physiological WAT remodeling and mechanisms leading to metabolic dysfunction.

Editorial note: This article has been through an editorial process in which the authors decide how to respond to the issues raised during peer review. The Reviewing Editor's assessment is that all the issues have been addressed.

Keywords: adipogenesis; adipose tissue; fibrosis; human biology; inflammation; medicine; mouse; mural cells; obesity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / metabolism
  • Adipogenesis*
  • Adipose Tissue, White / metabolism
  • Aging / pathology*
  • Animals
  • Antigens, Ly / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Separation
  • Diet, High-Fat
  • Female
  • Fibrosis
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Inflammation / pathology*
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / pathology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Models, Biological
  • Phenotype
  • Receptor, Platelet-Derived Growth Factor beta / metabolism
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA
  • Single-Cell Analysis
  • Stromal Cells / metabolism
  • Stromal Cells / pathology
  • Tetraspanin 29 / metabolism


  • Antigens, Ly
  • Ly-6C antigen, mouse
  • Tetraspanin 29
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Receptor, Platelet-Derived Growth Factor beta