Obesity, defined as excess fat mass, increases risks for multiple metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and several types of cancer. Over and above fat mass per se, the pattern of fat distribution, android or truncal as compared to gynoid or peripheral, has a profound influence on systemic metabolism and hence risk for metabolic diseases. Increases in upper body adipose tissue (visceral and abdominal subcutaneous) confer an independent risk, while the quantity of gluteofemoral adipose tissue is protective. Variations in the capacity of different depots to store and release fatty acids and to produce adipokines are important determinants of fat distribution and its metabolic consequences. Depot differences in cellular composition and physiology, including innervation and blood flow, likely influence their phenotypic properties. A number of lines of evidence also support the idea that adipocytes from different anatomical depots are intrinsically different as a result of genetic or developmental events. In this chapter, we will review the phenotypic characteristics of different adipose depots and mechanisms that link their depot-specific biology to metabolic complications in men and women.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.