New scanning electron microscopic method for determination of adipocyte size in humans and mice

Wen Guo, Sherman Bigornia, Ilit Leizerman, Weisheng Xie, Marie McDonnell, Kara Clemente, Tamara Pirtskhalava, James L. Kirkland, Noyan Gokce, Barbara E. Corkey, Lisa M. Sullivan, Caroline M. Apovian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate a new scanning electronic microscopic (EM) method for assessing fat cell sizes and compare fat cell size distribution in human adipose tissue from different fat depots before and after weight loss. Research Methods and Procedures: Identical human fat tissue biopsies were separated into two fractions: one used to prepare a fat cell suspension by collagenase digestion followed by photomicrography (collagenase method) and the other fixed in formalin for EM analysis. The EM method was evaluated further by determining fat cell sizes from lean and ob/ob mice. Finally, the EM method was used to assess fat cell sizes in biopsies of different human depots from before and after weight loss. Results: Fat cell size distributions measured by the two methods were not identical, but differences were generally small. The EM method reproduced the well-documented fat cell size difference between lean and ob/ob mice. Large variation was detected in fat cell distributions among three depots in humans. Weight loss reduced fat cell sizes in subjects with large baseline fat cells but had no effect in subjects with small baseline fat cell sizes. Discussion: Our results suggest that the EM method may be a useful alternative for fat cell size analysis of clinical samples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1657-1665
Number of pages9
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2007


  • Adipocytes
  • Adipose tissue
  • Weight loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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