Differential gene expression between visceral and subcutaneous fat depots

Horm Metab Res. Nov-Dec 2002;34(11-12):622-8. doi: 10.1055/s-2002-38250.


Abdominal obesity has been linked to the development of insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM2). By surgical removal of visceral fat (VF) in a variety of rodent models, we prevented insulin resistance and glucose intolerance, establishing a cause-effect relationship between VF and the metabolic syndrome. To characterize the biological differences between visceral and peripheral fat depots, we obtained perirenal visceral (VF) and subcutaneous (SC) fat from 5 young rats. We extracted mRNA from the fat tissue and performed gene array hybridization using Affymetrix technology with a platform containing 9 000 genes. Out of the 1 660 genes that were expressed in fat tissue, 297 (17.9 %) genes show a two-fold or higher difference in their expression between the two tissues. We present the 20 genes whose expression is higher in VF fat (by 3 - 7 fold) and the 20 genes whose expression is higher in SC fat (by 3 - 150 fold), many of which are predominantly involved in glucose homeostasis, insulin action, and lipid metabolism. We confirmed the findings of gene array expression and quantified the changes in expression in VF of genes involved in insulin resistance (PPARgamma leptin) and its syndrome (angiotensinogen and plasminogen activating inhibitor-1, PAI-1) by real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) technology. Finally, we demonstrated increased expression of resistin in VF by around 12-fold and adiponectin by around 4-fold, peptides that were not part of the gene expression platform. These results indicate that visceral fat and subcutaneous fat are biologically distinct.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / physiology*
  • Adipose Tissue / cytology
  • Adipose Tissue / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Gene Expression Profiling* / standards
  • Genetic Markers
  • Homeostasis / genetics
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Lipid Mobilization / genetics
  • Male
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Subcutaneous Tissue / physiology*
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Viscera / physiology*


  • Genetic Markers
  • Insulin
  • RNA, Messenger