Lipid droplets characterization in adipocyte differentiated 3T3-L1 cells: size and optical density distribution

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V. Rizzatti
F. Boschi
M. Pedrotti *
E. Zoico
A. Sbarbati
M. Zamboni
(*) Corresponding Author:
M. Pedrotti |


The 3T3-L1 cell line, derived from 3T3 cells, is widely used in biological research on adipose tissue. 3T3-L1 cells have a fibroblast-like morphology, but, under appropriate conditions, they differentiate into an adipocyte-like phenotype. During the differentiation process, 3T3-L1 cells increase the synthesis of triglycerides and acquire the behavior of adipose cells. In particular, triglycerides accumulate in lipid droplets (LDs) embedded in the cytoplasm. The number and the size distribution of the LDs is often correlated with obesity and many other pathologies linked with fat accumulation. The integrated optical density (IOD) of the LDs is related with the amount of triglycerides in the droplets. The aim of this study is the attempt to characterize the size distribution and the IOD of the LDs in 3T3-L1 differentiated cells. The cells were differentiated into adipocytes for 5 days with a standard procedure, stained with Oil Red O and observed with an optical microscope. The diameter, area, optical density of the LDs were measured. We found an asymmetry of the kernel density distribution of the maximum Feret’s diameter of the LDs with a tail due to very large LDs. More information regarding the birth of the LDs could help in finding the best mathematical model in order to analyze fat accumulation in adipocytes.

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