Aliki Perdikari and colleagues from the Farooqi team have developed a technique to visualize sympathetic innervation of human white adipose tissue for the first time. Published in Open Biology, their work describes how biopsies of subcutaneous adipose tissue were taken from people with obesity. The team then optimized a protocol for whole tissue immunolabelling with an antibody against tyrosine hydroxylase, a marker for sympathetic neurons, followed by optical clearing to deplete lipids from adipocytes and render them completely transparent.
Using 3D whole tissue microscopy and state-of-art light sheet confocal microscopy, they were able to visualize the sympathetic neuronal network in human adipose tissue at single fibre resolution.
The technique developed in this study will serve as a powerful tool to further understand the structure and function of human adipose tissue and the dynamic changes in adipocyte biology with weight gain and weight loss.