To determine the contribution of the major body fat depots to systemic free fatty acid (FFA) availability, palmitate ([1-14C]-palmitate) release was measured from leg (lower body) and non-leg (upper body) fat in eight upper body obese (UB Ob), six lower body obese (LB Ob), and six nonobese (Non Ob) age-matched premenopausal women in the overnight postabsorptive state. Splanchnic palmitate release was determined in 16 of these subjects.
Results: total palmitate release was greater in UB Ob (P less than 0.005) than LB Ob or Non Ob women (161 +/- 16 vs. 111 +/- 9 vs. 92 +/- 9 mumol/min, respectively). Despite increased leg fat mass in obese women, leg palmitate release was similar in each group. Therefore, leg fat palmitate release was greater in Non Ob women than LB Ob (P less than 0.01) or UB Ob (P = 0.06) women (3.7 +/- 0.3 vs. 2.4 +/- 0.2 vs. 2.7 +/- 0.2 mumol.kg fat-1.min-1, respectively). Upper body fat palmitate release was less (P less than 0.01) in LB Ob than Non Ob or UB Ob women (3.0 +/- 0.4 vs. 5.0 +/- 0.3 vs. 4.9 +/- 0.4 mumol.kg fat-1.min-1, respectively). Splanchnic palmitate release accounted for 20-32% of upper body fat palmitate release in each group (P = NS between groups). Leg fat palmitate release was significantly less than upper body fat palmitate release. We conclude that the major difference in resting FFA metabolism between UB Ob and LB Ob women is the ability of the later to down-regulate upper body fat lipolysis to maintain normal FFA availability.