Metabolically healthy obese subjects display preserved insulin sensitivity and a beneficial white adipose tissue gene expression pattern. However, this observation stems from fasting studies when insulin levels are low. We investigated adipose gene expression by 5'Cap-mRNA sequencing in 17 healthy non-obese (NO), 21 insulin-sensitive severely obese (ISO), and 30 insulin-resistant severely obese (IRO) subjects, before and 2 hr into a hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamp. ISO and IRO subjects displayed a clear but globally similar transcriptional response to insulin, which differed from the small effects observed in NO subjects. In the obese, 231 genes were altered; 71 were enriched in ISO subjects (e.g., phosphorylation processes), and 52 were enriched in IRO subjects (e.g., cellular stimuli). Common cardio-metabolic risk factors and gender do not influence these findings. This study demonstrates that differences in the acute transcriptional response to insulin are primarily driven by obesity per se, challenging the notion of healthy obese adipose tissue, at least in severe obesity.
Copyright © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.