Reduced oxygenation in human obese adipose tissue is associated with impaired insulin suppression of lipolysis

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Aug;95(8):4052-5. doi: 10.1210/jc.2009-2377. Epub 2010 May 13.


Context: Adipose tissue in obese individuals is characterized by reduced capillary density and reduced oxygenation.

Objective: Our objective was to test whether hypoxia is associated with reduced antilipolytic effect of insulin.

Participants, design, and setting: Twenty-one lean and obese individuals participated in this cross-sectional study at a university-based clinical research center.

Intervention: In all subjects, in situ adipose tissue (AT) oxygenation [AT oxygen partial pressure (ATpO2)] was measured with a Clark electrode, insulin sensitivity as well as basal and insulin-suppressed lipolysis (continuous infusion of (2H5)glycerol) were measured during a euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamp, and abdominal sc AT biopsies were collected to assess fat cell size (Coulter counting of osmium-fixed cells), capillary density (by staining of histological sections), and gene expression (by quantitative RT-PCR).

Main outcome measure: In situ ATpO2 was evaluated.

Results: The ability of insulin to suppress lipolysis (percent) was positively correlated with insulin sensitivity (r=0.43; P<0.05), ATpO2 (r=0.44; P<0.05), vascular endothelial growth factor mRNA (r=0.73; P<0.01), and capillary density (r=0.75; P<0.01).

Conclusion: These results indicate that low capillary density and ATpO2 in AT are potentially upstream causes of AT dysfunction.

Trial registration: NCT00704197.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adipose Tissue / blood supply*
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Body Composition
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism
  • Female
  • Glucose Clamp Technique
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Lipolysis / physiology*
  • Male
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Partial Pressure


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin

Associated data