Single Cell Analysis of Adipose Tissue from Mouse and Human

Adipose tissue is complex and heterogeneous; in the normal lean state, white fat is composed of roughly 50% adipocytes and 50% other cell types, such as endothelial cells, preadipocytes, fibroblasts, and immune cells. In obesity, the ratio of nonadipocytes: adipocytes can rise to as high as 10:1! Understanding adipose tissue biology thus requires a detailed accounting of the constituent cell types and how they change according to factors like depot type, sex, age, nutritional status, or ambient temperature. Unfortunately, single whole cell approaches are not suitable for capturing adipocytes, which are too large and fragile to withstand the shear forces associated with microfluidics. Accordingly, we have optimized a single nucleus (snRNA-seq) approach for adipose tissue, and have utilized it to generate an Adipose Atlas (v1.0) (PMID: 35296864). This atlas compares white adipose tissue across species, sexes, depots, and body mass, and can be viewed on the Broad Single Cell Portal. This work enabled us to identify new subpopulations of adipocytes, find associations between specific adipose cell types and metabolic disease traits, and develop an initial roadmap of cell-cell communication within the adipose niche. Ongoing work is focused on profiling additional cells from different depots and disease states, and in better characterizing adipocyte heterogeneity.