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Review
, 48 (3), e215

Heterogeneity of White Adipose Tissue: Molecular Basis and Clinical Implications

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Review

Heterogeneity of White Adipose Tissue: Molecular Basis and Clinical Implications

Kelvin H M Kwok et al. Exp Mol Med.

Abstract

Adipose tissue is a highly heterogeneous endocrine organ. The heterogeneity among different anatomical depots stems from their intrinsic differences in cellular and physiological properties, including developmental origin, adipogenic and proliferative capacity, glucose and lipid metabolism, insulin sensitivity, hormonal control, thermogenic ability and vascularization. Additional factors that influence adipose tissue heterogeneity are genetic predisposition, environment, gender and age. Under obese condition, these depot-specific differences translate into specific fat distribution patterns, which are closely associated with differential cardiometabolic risks. For instance, individuals with central obesity are more susceptible to developing diabetes and cardiovascular complications, whereas those with peripheral obesity are more metabolically healthy. This review summarizes the clinical and mechanistic evidence for the depot-specific differences that give rise to different metabolic consequences, and provides therapeutic insights for targeted treatment of obesity.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Heterogeneous adipose organ in humans. (a) White adipose tissue (WAT) depots in humans are shown in orange. Major subcutaneous WAT includes superficial and deep abdominal depots and gluteal-femoral depot. Major visceral WAT includes epicardial, omental and mesenteric. (b) Morphological differences between WAT, beige and brown adipose tissue (BAT) adipocytes as shown by cartoon and hematoxylin/eosin staining (× 40 magnification).
Figure 2
Figure 2
Impacts of fat transplantation on metabolism and insulin sensitivity in mice. Subcutaneous or visceral depots from donor mice were transplanted subcutaneously or intraperitoneally into recipient mice, which were then assessed for glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity.
Figure 3
Figure 3
Currently identified regulators and processes that give rise to heterogeneity in white adipose tissue (WAT) which, together with environmental factors, in turn contribute to differential cardiometabolic risks.

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