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Flow Cytometry of Mouse and Human Adipocytes for the Analysis of Browning and Cellular Heterogeneity

Journal article
Authors C. E. Hagberg
Q. Li
M. Kutschke
D. Bhowmick
E. Kiss
I. G. Shabalina
M. J. Harms
O. Shilkova
V. Kozina
J. Nedergaard
Jeremie Boucher
A. Thorell
K. L. Spalding
Published in Cell Reports
Volume 24
Issue 10
Pages 2746-+
ISSN 2211-1247
Publication year 2018
Published at Wallenberg Laboratory
Institute of Medicine, Department of Molecular and Clinical Medicine
Pages 2746-+
Language en
Keywords white adipose-tissue, fat-cells, lipolysis, obese, expression, biology, women, thermogenesis, population, haplotypes, Cell Biology
Subject categories Cell biology


Adipocytes, once considered simple lipid-storing cells, are rapidly emerging as complex cells with many biologically diverse functions. A powerful high-throughput method for analyzing single cells is flow cytometry. Several groups have attempted to analyze and sort freshly isolated adipocytes; however, using an adipocyte-specific reporter mouse, we demonstrate that these studies fail to detect the majority of white adipocytes. We define critical settings required for adipocyte flow cytometry and provide a rigid strategy for analyzing and sorting white and brown adipocyte populations. The applicability of our protocol is shown by sorting mouse adipocytes based on size or UCP1 expression and demonstrating that a subset of human adipocytes lacks the beta(2)-adrenergic receptor, particularly in the insulin-resistant state. In conclusion, the present study confers key technological insights for analyzing and sorting mature adipocytes, opening up numerous downstream research applications.

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