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Immunology and Infection

Isolation of Adipogenic and Fibro-Inflammatory Stromal Cell Subpopulations from Murine Intra-Abdominal Adipose Depots

Published: August 16th, 2020



1Diabetes Pharmacology, Novo Nordisk A/S, 2Touchstone Diabetes Center, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
* These authors contributed equally

This protocol describes the technical approach to isolate adipogenic and fibro-inflammatory stromal cell subpopulations from murine intra-abdominal white adipose tissue (WAT) depots by fluorescence-activated cell sorting or immunomagnetic bead separation.

The stromal-vascular fraction (SVF) of white adipose tissue (WAT) is remarkably heterogeneous and consists of numerous cell types that contribute functionally to the expansion and remodeling of WAT in adulthood. A tremendous barrier to studying the implications of this cellular heterogeneity is the inability to readily isolate functionally distinct cell subpopulations from WAT SVF for in vitro and in vivo analyses. Single-cell sequencing technology has recently identified functionally distinct fibro-inflammatory and adipogenic PDGFRβ+ perivascular cell subpopulations in intra-abdominal WAT depots of adult mice. Fibro-inflammatory progenitors (termed, “FIPs”) are non-adipogenic collagen producing cells that can exert a pro-inflammatory phenotype. PDGFRβ+ adipocyte precursor cells (APCs) are highly adipogenic both in vitro and in vivo upon cell transplantation. Here, we describe multiple methods for the isolation of these stromal cell subpopulations from murine intra-abdominal WAT depots. FIPs and APCs can be isolated by fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) or by taking advantage of biotinylated antibody-based immunomagnetic bead technology. Isolated cells can be used for molecular and functional analysis. Studying the functional properties of stromal cell subpopulation in isolation will expand our current knowledge of adipose tissue remodeling under physiological or pathological conditions on the cellular level.

White adipose tissue (WAT) represents the principal site for energy storage in mammals. Within this tissue, adipocytes, or “fat cells,” store excess calories in the form of triglyceride, packaged into large unilocular lipid droplets. Moreover, adipocytes secrete a multitude of factors that regulate various aspects of energy homeostasis1,2,3. Adipocytes constitute the bulk of WAT volume; however, adipocytes only represent less than 50% of total cells found in WAT4,5. The non-adipocyte compartment of WAT, or....

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All animal protocols and procedures have been approved by the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center Institutional Animal Use and Care Committee.

1. Isolation of stromal vascular fraction (SVF) from gonadal white adipose tissue

  1. Dissect the gonadal white adipose tissue from 6-8-week-old mice and place fat pads in 1x PBS solution.
  2. Combine up to 4 fat depots (2-4 depots from 1-2 mice recommended) and mince the tissue in a 10 mL beaker containing 200 µL of diges.......

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This protocol describes two strategies that allow for the isolation of distinct stromal cell populations from intra-abdominal WAT depots of adult mice. APCs and FIPs can be isolated by FACS (Figure 1) or immunomagnetic bead separation with biotinylated antibodies (Figure 2). Both approaches utilize reagents and antibodies that are all commercially available. Immunomagnetic bead separation leads to the separation of adipogenic from non-adipogenic cells from the g.......

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The C57BL/6 strain of mice is the most used mouse strain in studies of diet-induced obesity. C57BL/6 mice rapidly gain weight when placed on a high-fat diet (HFD) and develop some of the prominent features of metabolic syndrome associated with obesity (e.g., insulin resistance and hyperlipidemia). Notably, WAT expansion occurring in association with high-fat diet (HFD) feeding occurs in a depot-specific manner19,20,21,

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The authors are grateful to Lisa Hansen and Kirsten Vestergaard for excellent technical assistance, and P. Scherer, N. Joffin, and C. Crewe for critical reading of the manuscript. The authors thank the UTSW Flow Cytometry Core for excellent guidance and assistance in developing the protocols described here. R.K.G. is supported by NIH NIDDK R01 DK104789, NIDDK RC2 DK118620, and NIDDK R01 DK119163. J.P. is sponsored by a pre-doctoral award from Innovation Fund Denmark.


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NameCompanyCatalog NumberComments
Mechanical Tissue Preparation and SVF Isolation
40 and 100 µm cell strainersFisher Scientific352340/352360
1X Phosphate buffered saline (PBS)Fisher Scientific21040CV
5ml polypropylene tubesFisher Scientific352053
Digestion Buffer (for 10mL)
10 ml HBSSSigmaH8264
10 mg Collagenase D (1 mg/ml final cc.)Roche11088882001
0.15 g BSA (1.5 % final cc.)Fisher ScientificBP1605-100
Immunomagnetic separation of APCs and non-APCs
5X MojoSort Buffer (MS buffer)BioLegend480017
5 ml MojoSort Magnet (MS magnet)BioLegend480019
100 µL MojoSort Streptavidin NanobeadsBioLegend480015
Purity Check and FACS
10X Red Blood Cell Lysis BuffereBioscience00-4300-54
Fc block (Mouse CD16/CD32)eBioscience553141
Biotin CD45BioLegend103103Concentration: ≤ 0.25 µg per 10^6 cells
Species: Mouse
Clone: 30-F11
Biotin CD31BioLegend102503Concentration: ≤ 0.25 µg per 10^6 cells
Species: Mouse
Clone: MEC13.3
Biotin CD9BioLegend124803Concentration: ≤ 0.25 µg per 10^6 cells
Species: Mouse
Clone: MZ3
Biotin LY6CBioLegend128003Concentration: ≤ 0.25 µg per 10^6 cells
Species: Mouse
Clone: HK1.4
CD31-PerCP/Cy5.5BioLegend102419Concentration: Dilution 1:400
Species: Mouse
Clone: 390
CD45-PerCP/Cy5.5BioLegend103131Concentration: Dilution 1:400
Species: Mouse
Clone: 30-F11
CD140b PDGFRβ-PEBioLegend136006Concentration: Dilution 1:50
Species: Mouse
Clone: APB5
LY6C-APCBioLegend128016Concentration: Dilution 1:400
Species: Mouse
Clone: HK1.4
CD9-FITCBioLegend124808Concentration: Dilution 1:400
Species: Mouse
Clone: MZ3
Cell Culture and Differentiation
Gonadal APC Culture media (for 500mL)
288 mL DMEM with 1 g/L glucoseCorning10-014-CV
192 mL MCDB201SigmaM6770
10 mL Fetal bovine serum (FBS)** lot#14E024Sigma12303C
5 mL 100% ITS premixBD Bioscience354352
5 mL 10 mM L-ascorbic acid-2-2phosphateSigmaA8960-5G
50 µL 100 g/ml FGF-basicR&D systems3139-FB-025/CF
5 mL Pen/StrepCorning30-001-CI
500 µL GentamycinGibco15750-060
**NOTE: The adipogenic capacity of primary APCs can vary from lot to lot of commercial FBS. Multiple lots/sources of FBS should be tested.

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