In Vitro Culture of White Adipose Tissue

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Methods in Molecular Biology


White adipose tissue (WAT) plays a crucial endocrine organ that regulates blood glucose and lipid levels, satiety, and inflammation. Before the described technique, primary white adipocytes could not be stably cultured in vitro. The lack of a reliable primary culture model impeded research in WAT metabolism and drug development. We have developed a novel technique for WAT primary culture called "sandwiched white adipose tissue" (SWAT). SWAT overcomes the natural buoyancy of adipocytes by sandwiching minced WAT between sheets of adipose-derived stromal cells. The resulting constructs are viable for at least 8 weeks in culture. SWAT maintains the intact extracellular matrix, cell-to-cell contacts, and physical pressures of in vivo WAT conditions; additionally, SWAT maintains a robust transcriptional profile, sensitivity to exogenous chemical signaling, and whole tissue function. SWAT represents a simple, reproducible, and effective method of primary adipose culture. Potentially, it is a broadly applicable platform for research in WAT physiology, pathophysiology, metabolism, and pharmaceutical development.

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