Intra-Abdominal Fat Depots Represent Distinct Immunomodulatory Microenvironments: A Murine Model

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White adipose tissue (WAT) is a multi-faceted endocrine organ involved in energy storage, metabolism, immune function and disease pathogenesis. In contrast to subcutaneous fat, visceral fat (V-WAT) has been associated with numerous diseases and metabolic disorders, indicating specific functions related to anatomical location. Although visceral depots are often used interchangeably in V-WAT-associated disease studies, there has been a recent subdivision of V-WAT into “true visceral” and non-visceral intra-abdominal compartments. These were associated with distinct physiological roles, illustrating a need for depot-specific information. Here, we use FACS analysis to comparatively characterize the leukocyte and progenitor populations in the stromal vascular fraction (SVF) of peritoneal serous fluid (PSF), parametrial (pmWAT), retroperitoneal (rpWAT), and omental (omWAT) adipose tissue from seven-month old C57BL/6 female mice. We found significant differences in SVF composition between all four microenvironments. PSF SVF was comprised almost entirely of CD45+ leukocytes (>99%), while omWAT contained less, but still almost two-fold more leukocytes than pmWAT and rpWAT (75%, 38% and 38% respectively; p<0.01). PmWAT was composed primarily of macrophages, whereas rpWAT more closely resembled omWAT, denoted by high levels of B1 B-cell and monocyte populations. Further, omWAT harbored significantly higher proportions of T-cells than the other tissues, consistent with its role as a secondary lymphoid organ. These SVF changes were also reflected in the gene expression profiles of the respective tissues. Thus, intra-abdominal fat pads represent independent immunomodulatory microenvironments and should be evaluated as distinct entities with unique contributions to physiological and pathological processes.