Pathways regulated by glucocorticoids in omental and subcutaneous human adipose tissues: A microarray study

Mi Jeong Lee, Da Wei Gong, Bryan F. Burkey, Susan K. Fried

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81 Scopus citations


Glucocorticoids (GC) are powerful regulators of adipocyte differentiation, metabolism, and endocrine function and promote the development of upper body obesity, especially visceral fat stores. To provide a comprehensive understanding of how GC affect adipose tissue and adipocyte function, we analyzed patterns of gene expression (HG U95 Affymetrix arrays) after culture of abdominal subcutaneous (Abd sc) and omental (Om) adipose tissues from severely obese subjects (3 F, 1 M) in the presence of insulin or insulin (7 nM) plus dexamethasone (Dex, 25 nM) for 7 days. About 20% (561 genes in Om and 569 genes in sc) of 2,803 adipose expressed genes were affected by long-term GC. While most of the genes (90%) were commonly regulated by Dex in both depots, 26 in Om and 34 in Abd sc were affected by Dex in only one depot. 60% of the commonly upregulated genes were involved in metabolic pathways and were expressed mainly in adipocytes. Dex suppressed genes in immune/ inflammatory (IL-6, IL-8, and MCP-1, expressed in nonadipocytes) and proapoptotic pathways, yet induced genes related to the acute-phase response (SAA, factor D, haptoglobin, and RBP4, expressed in adipocytes) and stress/defense response. Functional classification analysis showed that Dex also induced expression levels of 22 transcription factors related to insulin action and lipogenesis (LXRα, STAT5α, SREBP1, and FoxO1) and immunity/adipogenesis (TSC22D3) while suppressing 17 transcription factors in both depots. Overall, these studies reveal the powerful effects of GC on gene networks that regulate many key functions in human adipose tissue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E571-E580
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes


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