Neural Crest Cells Differentiate into Brown Adipocytes and Contribute to Periaortic Arch Adipose Tissue Formation

Mengxia Fu, Lian Xu, Xiaohui Chen, Weiqing Han, Chengchao Ruan, Jun Li, Chenleng Cai, Maoqing Ye, Pingjin Gao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Objective: Periaortic arch adipose tissue (PAAT) plays critical roles in regulating vascular homeostasis; however, its anatomic features, developmental processes, and origins remain unclear. Approach and Results: Anatomic analysis and genetic lineage tracing of Wnt1 (wingless-type MMTV [mouse mammary tumor virus] integration site family member 1)-Cre+;Rosa26RFP/+ mice, Myf5 (myogenic factor 5)-Cre+;Rosa26RFP/+ mice, and SM22α-Cre+;Rosa26RFP/+ mice are performed, and the results show that PAAT has unique anatomic features, and the developmental processes of PAAT are independent of the others periaortic adipose tissues. PAAT adipocytes are mainly derived from neural crest cells (NCCs) rather than from Myf5+ progenitors. Most PAAT adipocyte progenitors expressed SM22α+ (smooth muscle protein 22-alpha) during development. Using Wnt1-Cre+;PPARγflox/flox mice, we found that knockout of PPAR (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor)-γ in NCCs results in PAAT developmental delay and dysplasia, further confirming that NCCs contribute to PAAT formation. And we further indicated PAAT dysplasia aggravates Ang II (angiotensin II)-induced inflammation and remodeling of the common carotid artery close to aorta arch. We also found that NCCs can be differentiated into both brown and white adipocytes in vivo and in vitro. RNA sequencing results suggested NCC-derived adipose tissue displays a distinct transcriptional profile compared with the non-NCC-derived adipose tissue in PAAT. Conclusions: PAAT has distinctive anatomic features and developmental processes. Most PAAT adipocytes are originated from NCCs which derive from ectoderm. NCCs are progenitors not only of white adipocytes but also of brown adipocytes. This study indicates that the PAAT is derived from multiple cell lineages, the adipocytes derived from different origins have distinct transcriptional profiles, and PAAT plays a critical role in Ang II-induced common carotid artery inflammation and remodeling.Visual OvervieW: An online visual overview is available for this article.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1629-1644
Number of pages16
JournalArteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • adipose tissue
  • angiotensin II
  • brown
  • mice
  • neural crest
  • stem cells


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