Visceral adipose tissue and metabolic complications of obesity are reduced in Prader-Willi syndrome female adults: evidence for novel influences on body fat distribution

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2001 Sep;86(9):4330-8. doi: 10.1210/jcem.86.9.7814.


Visceral obesity is detrimental to health, but the mechanisms controlling body fat distribution are not fully understood. In premenopausal adult females (30 nonobese, 14 obese [body mass index >30 kg/m(2)]), variance in fasting insulin, glucose, insulin/glucose ratio, C-peptide/insulin ratio, triglycerides, and high-density lipoprotein/low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol ratio, were independently influenced by visceral but not total sc or abdominal sc adipose tissue, as measured by whole-body magnetic resonance imaging. Adult females with Prader-Willi syndrome (n = 13) had significantly reduced visceral adiposity, compared with obese controls (visceral/total sc adipose tissue ratio: 0.067 +/- 0.017 vs. 0.108 +/- 0.021), independent of their total adiposity (P < 0.001), or use of exogenous sex steroids. This is in contrast to that expected by their physical inactivity, hypogonadism, adult GH deficiency, and psychiatric problems. Females with Prader-Willi syndrome not receiving sex steroids (n = 8) had significantly reduced fasting insulin, insulin/glucose ratio, and triglycerides and increased C-peptide/insulin ratio, compared with obese controls, adjusting for total (P < 0.05) but not visceral adiposity (P = 0.3-0.6), supporting their association. The cause of the reduced visceral adiposity in Prader-Willi syndrome may reflect novel hormonal, hypothalamic, and/or genetic influences on body fat distribution.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / physiology*
  • Adult
  • Aging / physiology
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Body Composition
  • Body Height / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperlipidemias / genetics
  • Hyperlipidemias / metabolism
  • Hypogonadism / metabolism
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / genetics
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Phenotype
  • Prader-Willi Syndrome / complications
  • Prader-Willi Syndrome / genetics
  • Prader-Willi Syndrome / metabolism*


  • Blood Glucose