Downregulation of Adipose Tissue Fatty Acid Trafficking in Obesity

A Driver for Ectopic Fat Deposition?

  1. Fredrik Karpe1,2
  1. 1Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism, Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, U.K.;
  2. 2National Institute for Health Research, Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals Trust, Oxford, U.K.
  1. Corresponding author: Fredrik Karpe, fredrik.karpe{at}ocdem.ox.ac.uk.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE Lipotoxicity and ectopic fat deposition reduce insulin signaling. It is not clear whether excess fat deposition in nonadipose tissue arises from excessive fatty acid delivery from adipose tissue or from impaired adipose tissue storage of ingested fat.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS To investigate this we used a whole-body integrative physiological approach with multiple and simultaneous stable-isotope fatty acid tracers to assess delivery and transport of endogenous and exogenous fatty acid in adipose tissue over a diurnal cycle in lean (n = 9) and abdominally obese men (n = 10).

RESULTS Abdominally obese men had substantially (2.5-fold) greater adipose tissue mass than lean control subjects, but the rates of delivery of nonesterified fatty acids (NEFA) were downregulated, resulting in normal systemic NEFA concentrations over a 24-h period. However, adipose tissue fat storage after meals was substantially depressed in the obese men. This was especially so for chylomicron-derived fatty acids, representing the direct storage pathway for dietary fat. Adipose tissue from the obese men showed a transcriptional signature consistent with this impaired fat storage function.

CONCLUSIONS Enlargement of adipose tissue mass leads to an appropriate downregulation of systemic NEFA delivery with maintained plasma NEFA concentrations. However the implicit reduction in adipose tissue fatty acid uptake goes beyond this and shows a maladaptive response with a severely impaired pathway for direct dietary fat storage. This adipose tissue response to obesity may provide the pathophysiological basis for ectopic fat deposition and lipotoxicity.

Footnotes

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  • Received June 22, 2010.
  • Accepted October 3, 2010.

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  1. Diabetes vol. 60 no. 1 47-55
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