Crown-like structures (CLSs) are adipose microenvironments of macrophages engulfing adipocytes. Their histological density in visceral adipose tissue (VAT) predicts metabolic disorder progression in obesity and is believed to initiate obesity comorbidities. Here, we use three-dimensional (3D) light sheet microscopy and deep learning to quantify 3D features of VAT CLSs in lean and obese states. Obese CLS densities are significantly higher, composing 3.9% of tissue volume compared with 0.46% in lean tissue. Across the states, individual CLS structural characteristics span similar ranges; however, subpopulations are distinguishable. Obese VAT contains large CLSs absent from lean tissues, located near the tissue center, while lean CLSs have higher volumetric cell densities and prolate shapes. These features are consistent with inefficient adipocyte elimination in obesity that contributes to chronic inflammation, representing histological biomarkers to assess adipose pathogenesis. This tissue processing, imaging, and analysis pipeline can be applied to quantitatively classify 3D microenvironments across diverse tissues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbereabe2480
JournalScience Advances
Issue number8
StatePublished - Feb 17 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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