White adipose tissue (WAT) is a central factor in the development of type 2 diabetes, but there is a paucity of translational models to study mature adipocytes. We describe a method for the culture of mature white adipocytes under a permeable membrane. Compared to existing culture methods, MAAC (membrane mature adipocyte aggregate cultures) better maintain adipogenic gene expression, do not dedifferentiate, display reduced hypoxia, and remain functional after long-term culture. Subcutaneous and visceral adipocytes cultured as MAAC retain depot-specific gene expression, and adipocytes from both lean and obese patients can be cultured. Importantly, we show that rosiglitazone treatment or PGC1α overexpression in mature white adipocytes induces a brown fat transcriptional program, providing direct evidence that human adipocytes can transdifferentiate into brown-like adipocytes. Together, these data show that MAAC are a versatile tool for studying phenotypic changes of mature adipocytes and provide an improved translational model for drug development.
Keywords: BAT; MAAC; UCP1; WAT; adipocyte; brown adipose; culture; transdifferentiation; white adipose.
Copyright © 2019 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.