Adipose tissue heterogeneity: Implication of depot differences in adipose tissue for obesity complications

Mi Jeong Lee, Yuanyuan Wu, Susan K. Fried

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

550 Scopus citations


Obesity, defined as excess fat mass, increases risks for multiple metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and several types of cancer. Over and above fat mass per se, the pattern of fat distribution, android or truncal as compared to gynoid or peripheral, has a profound influence on systemic metabolism and hence risk for metabolic diseases. Increases in upper body adipose tissue (visceral and abdominal subcutaneous) confer an independent risk, while the quantity of gluteofemoral adipose tissue is protective. Variations in the capacity of different depots to store and release fatty acids and to produce adipokines are important determinants of fat distribution and its metabolic consequences. Depot differences in cellular composition and physiology, including innervation and blood flow, likely influence their phenotypic properties. A number of lines of evidence also support the idea that adipocytes from different anatomical depots are intrinsically different as a result of genetic or developmental events. In this chapter, we will review the phenotypic characteristics of different adipose depots and mechanisms that link their depot-specific biology to metabolic complications in men and women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Aspects of Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • C-reactive protein
  • CLS
  • CRP
  • FFA
  • GLUT4
  • GM-CSF
  • IL-6
  • LPL
  • MCP-1
  • RBP4
  • SAA
  • SAT
  • SVC
  • TG
  • TNF-α
  • TSP-1
  • VAT
  • VLDL
  • crown like structures
  • free fatty acids
  • glucose transporter 4
  • granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor
  • interleukin-6
  • lipoprotein lipase
  • macrophage chemoattractant protein-1
  • retinol binding protein 4
  • sc
  • serum amyloid A
  • stromal vascular cells
  • subcutaneous
  • subcutaneous adipose tissue
  • thrombospondin 1
  • triacylglyeride
  • tumor necrosis factor-alpha
  • very low density lipoprotein
  • visceral adipose tissue


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