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BACKGROUND: The adipocyte-hypertrophy associated remodeling of fat cell function is considered causal for the development of metabolic disorders. A better understanding of transcriptome and fatty acid (FA) related alterations with adipocyte hypertrophy combined with less-invasive strategies for the detection of the latter can help to increase the prognostic and diagnostic value of adipocyte size and FA composition as markers for metabolic disease. METHODS: To clarify adipocyte-hypertrophy associated transcriptomic alterations, fat cell size was related to RNA-Seq data from white adipose tissue and size-separated adipocytes. The relationship between adipocyte size and adipose tissue FA composition as measured by GC-MS was investigated. MR spectroscopy (MRS) methods for clinical scanning were developed to characterize adipocyte size and FA composition in a fast and non-invasive manner. FINDINGS: With enlarged adipocyte size, substantial transcriptomic alterations of genes involved in mitochondrial function and FA metabolism were observed. Investigations of these two mechanisms revealed a reciprocal relationship between adipocyte size and estimated thermogenic adipocyte content as well as depot-specific correlations of adipocyte size and FA composition. MRS on a clinical scanner was suitable for the in-parallel assessment of adipose morphology and FA composition. INTERPRETATION: The current study provides a comprehensive overview of the adipocyte-hypertrophy associated transcriptomic and FA landscape in both subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissue. MRS represents a promising technique to translate the observed mechanistic, structural and functional changes in WAT with adipocyte hypertrophy into a clinical context for an improved phenotyping of WAT in the context of metabolic diseases. FUNDING: Competence network for obesity (FKZ 42201GI1128), ERC (No 677661, ProFatMRI; No 875488, FatVirtualBiopsy), Else Kröner-Fresenius-Foundation.

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Browning, Fatty acids, Magnetic resonance, Obesity, Transcriptomics, White adipose tissue