A method is described for preparing isolated rat adipose cells for electron microscopy. The ultrastructure of such cells and their production of 14CO2 from U-glucose-14C were studied simultaneously in the presence of insulin or epinephrine. Each adipose cell consists of a large lipid droplet surrounded by a thin rim of cytoplasm. In addition to typical subcellular organelles, a variety of small lipid droplets and an extensive system of membranes characterize the cell's cytoplasm. A fenestrated envelope surrounds the large, central lipid droplet. Similar envelopes surround cytoplasmic lipid droplets occurring individually or as aggregates of very small, amorphous droplets. Groups of individual droplets of smaller size also occur without envelopes. The system of membranes consists of invaginations of the cell membrane, vesicles possibly of pinocytic origin, simple and vesiculated vacuoles, vesicles deeper in the cytoplasm, flattened and vesicular smooth surfaced endoplasmic reticulum, and Golgi complexes. Neither insulin nor epinephrine produced detectable ultrastructural alterations even when cells were incubated under optimal conditions for the stimulation of 14CO2 evolution. Structural responses of the isolated adipose cell to hormones, if such occur, must, therefore, be dynamic rather than qualitative in nature; the extensive system of smooth surfaced membranes is suggestive of compartmentalized transport and metabolism.

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