Plasma Visfatin Concentrations and Fat Depot–Specific mRNA Expression in Humans

  1. Janin Berndt1,
  2. Nora Klöting2,
  3. Susan Kralisch2,
  4. Peter Kovacs2,
  5. Mathias Fasshauer2,
  6. Michael R. Schön3,
  7. Michael Stumvoll2 and
  8. Matthias Blüher12
  1. 1Junior Research Group, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany
  2. 2Department of Internal Medicine, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany
  3. 3Department of Surgery, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Michael Stumvoll, MD, University of Leipzig, Medical Department III, Ph.-Rosenthal-Str. 27, D-04103, Leipzig, Germany. E-mail: michael.stumvoll{at}


Visceral and subcutaneous adipose tissue display important metabolic differences that underlie the association of visceral obesity with obesity-related cardiovascular and metabolic alterations. Recently, visfatin was identified as an adipokine, which is predominantly secreted from visceral adipose tissue both in humans and mice. In this study, we examined whether visfatin plasma concentrations (using enzyme immunosorbent assay) and mRNA expression (using RT-PCR) in visceral and subcutaneous fat correlates with anthropometric and metabolic parameters in 189 subjects with a wide range of obesity, body fat distribution, insulin sensitivity, and glucose tolerance. Visfatin plasma concentration correlates positively with the visceral visfatin mRNA expression (r2 = 0.17, P < 0.0001), BMI (r2 = 0.062, P = 0.004), percent body fat (r2 = 0.048, P = 0.01), and negatively with subcutaneous visfatin mRNA expression (r2 = 0.18, P < 0.0001). However, in a subgroup of 73 individuals, in which visceral fat mass was calculated from computed tomography scans, there was no correlation between plasma visfatin concentrations and visceral fat mass. We found no significant correlation between visfatin plasma concentrations and parameters of insulin sensitivity, including fasting insulin, fasting plasma glucose concentrations, and the glucose infusion rate during the steady state of an euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamp independent of percent body fat. Visfatin gene expression was not different between visceral and subcutaneous adipose tissue in the entire study group nor in selected subgroups. We found a significant correlation between visceral visfatin gene expression and BMI (r2 = 0.06, P = 0.001) and percent body fat (measured using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) (r2 = 0.044, P = 0.004), whereas no significant association between BMI or percent body fat and subcutaneous visfatin mRNA expression existed (both P >0.5). In conclusion, visfatin plasma concentrations and visceral visfatin mRNA expression correlated with measures of obesity but not with visceral fat mass or waist-to-hip ratio. In addition, we did not find differences in visfatin mRNA expression between visceral and subcutaneous adipose tissue in humans.


    • Accepted June 28, 2005.
    • Received March 30, 2005.
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