Dermal adipose tissue has high plasticity and undergoes reversible dedifferentiation in mice

Zhuzhen Zhang, Mengle Shao, Chelsea Hepler, Zhenzhen Zi, Shangang Zhao, Yu A. An, Yi Zhu, Alexandra L. Ghaben, Wang May-Yun, Na Li, Toshiharu Onodera, Nolwenn Joffin, Clair Crewe, Qingzhang Zhu, Lavanya Vishvanath, Ashwani Kumar, Chao Xing, Qiong A. Wang, Laurent Gautron, Yingfeng DengRuth Gordillo, Ilja Kruglikov, Christine M. Kusminski, Rana K. Gupta, Philipp E. Scherer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Dermal adipose tissue (also known as dermal white adipose tissue and herein referred to as dWAT) has been the focus of much discussion in recent years. However, dWAT remains poorly characterized. The fate of the mature dermal adipocytes and the origin of the rapidly reappearing dermal adipocytes at different stages remain unclear. Here, we isolated dermal adipocytes and characterized dermal fat at the cellular and molecular level. Together with dWAT's dynamic responses to external stimuli, we established that dermal adipocytes are a distinct class of white adipocytes with high plasticity. By combining pulse-chase lineage tracing and single-cell RNA sequencing, we observed that mature dermal adipocytes undergo dedifferentiation and redifferentiation under physiological and pathophysiological conditions. Upon various challenges, the dedifferentiated cells proliferate and redifferentiate into adipocytes. In addition, manipulation of dWAT highlighted an important role for mature dermal adipocytes for hair cycling and wound healing. Altogether, these observations unravel a surprising plasticity of dermal adipocytes and provide an explanation for the dynamic changes in dWAT mass that occur under physiological and pathophysiological conditions, and highlight the important contributions of dWAT toward maintaining skin homeostasis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5327-5342
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Clinical Investigation
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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