Human epicardial adipose tissue has a specific transcriptomic signature depending on its anatomical peri-atrial, peri-ventricular, or peri-coronary location

Cardiovasc Res. 2015 Oct 1;108(1):62-73. doi: 10.1093/cvr/cvv208. Epub 2015 Aug 3.


Aims: Human epicardial adipose tissue (EAT) is a visceral and perivascular fat that has been shown to act locally on myocardium, atria, and coronary arteries. Its abundance has been linked to coronary artery disease (CAD) and atrial fibrillation. However, its physiological function remains highly debated. The aim of this study was to determine a specific EAT transcriptomic signature, depending on its anatomical peri-atrial (PA), peri-ventricular (PV), or peri-coronary location.

Methods and results: Samples of EAT and thoracic subcutaneous fat, obtained from 41 patients paired for cardiovascular risk factors, CAD, and atrial fibrillation were analysed using a pangenomic approach. We found 2728 significantly up-regulated genes in the EAT vs. subcutaneous fat with 400 genes being common between PA, PV, and peri-coronary EAT. These common genes were related to extracellular matrix remodelling, inflammation, infection, and thrombosis pathways. Omentin (ITLN1) was the most up-regulated gene and secreted adipokine in EAT (fold-change >12, P < 0.0001). Among EAT-enriched genes, we observed different patterns depending on adipose tissue location. A beige expression phenotype was found in EAT but PV EAT highly expressed uncoupled protein 1 (P = 0.01). Genes overexpressed in peri-coronary EAT were implicated in proliferation, O-N glycan biosynthesis, and sphingolipid metabolism. PA EAT displayed an atypical pattern with genes implicated in cardiac muscle contraction and intracellular calcium signalling pathway.

Conclusion: This study opens new perspectives in understanding the physiology of human EAT and its local interaction with neighbouring structures.

Keywords: Beige fat; Ectopic fat; Epicardial adipose tissue; Epicardial fat; Microarrays.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pericardium / metabolism*
  • Transcriptome*