Relationship between deep subcutaneous abdominal adipose tissue and metabolic syndrome: a case control study

Diabetol Metab Syndr. 2016 Feb 12;8:10. doi: 10.1186/s13098-016-0127-7. eCollection 2016.


Background: The deep subcutaneous adipose tissue (dSAT) is closely related to the obesity-associated complications similarly to the characteristics of visceral adipose tissue (VAT). However, the association between dSAT and metabolic syndrome (MS) is unclear. The purpose of our study was to evaluate the association of distinct abdominal adipose tissue with the cardiometabolic risk factors and MS.

Methods: Abdominal computed tomography (CT) images were obtained in 365 asymptomatic subjects (187 subjects with MS and 178 without MS). The axial images segmented into superficial and deep SAT by manually tracing the fascia superficialis at L4-5 levels. The concentrations of serum inflammatory cytokines and adipokines were also measured.

Results: The MS group had significantly lower adiponectin levels but significantly higher levels of resistin, leptin, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), interleukin-6 (IL-6), intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM), monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1), and oxLDL than the control group (p < 0.05). All inflammatory cytokines and adipokines were associated with the sum of VAT and dSAT areas (VDAT) (P for trend < 0.05), but no significant correlation was found between inflammatory cytokines and sSAT. dSAT was significantly associated with MS in both men and women (OR 2.371; p < 0.001) whereas the ORs between sSAT and MS were not significant (p = 0.597). The age-adjusted ORs between VDAT and MS (OR of 8.359 in men and 3.183 in women, p < 0.001) were higher than those of VAT (OR of 7.941 in men and 2.570 in women, p < 0.05) and dSAT (OR of 2.954 in men and 1.856 in women, p < 0.05).

Conclusions: We demonstrated that dSAT was associated with increased inflammation and oxidative stress, suggesting that dSAT is an important determinant of MS. Therefore, abdominal subcutaneous fat should be considered as two functionally distinct compartments rather than a single entity.

Keywords: Adipocytokine; Deep subcutaneous adipose tissue; Inflammatory cytokine; Metabolic syndrome; Superficial subcutaneous adipose tissue; Visceral adipose tissue.