Acute cold induces beige adipocyte protein marker expression in human subcutaneous white adipose tissue (SC WAT) from both the cold treated and contralateral leg, and the immune system regulates SC WAT beiging in mice. Cold treatment significantly increased the gene expression of the macrophage markers CD68 and 86 in SC WAT. Therefore, we comprehensively investigated the involvement of macrophages in SC WAT beiging in lean and obese humans by immunohistochemistry. Cold treatment significantly increased CD163/CD68 macrophages in SC WAT from the cold treated and contralateral legs of lean and obese subjects, and had similar effects on CD206/CD68 macrophages, whereas the effects on CD86/CD68 macrophages were inconsistent between lean and obese. However, linear regression analysis did not find significant relationships between the change in macrophage numbers and the change in UCP1 protein abundance. A high percentage of CD163 macrophages in SC WAT expressed UCP1, and these UCP1 expressing CD163 macrophages were significantly increased by cold treatment in SC WAT of lean subjects. In conclusion, our results suggest that CD163 macrophages are involved in some aspect of the tissue remodeling that occurs during SC WAT beiging in humans after cold treatment, but they are likely not direct mediators of the beiging process.

Document Type


Publication Date


Notes/Citation Information

Published in Scientific Reports, v. 11, article no. 2359.

© 2021 The Author(s)

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Funding Information

This work was supported by the following NIH grants: RO1 DK107646, RO1 DK112282, R01 DK124626, CTSA grant UL1TR001998, and P20 GM103527-06.

Related Content

The datasets generated during and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.