Viscoelastic characterization of diabetic and non-diabetic human adipose tissue

Biorheology. 2020;57(1):15-26. doi: 10.3233/BIR-190234.


Background: Obesity-induced chronic inflammation and fibrosis in adipose tissue contributes to the progression of type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM). While fibrosis is known to induce mechanical stiffening of numerous tissue types, it is unknown whether DM is associated with alterations in adipose tissue mechanical properties.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate whether DM is associated with differences in bulk viscoelastic properties of adipose tissue from diabetic (DM) and non-diabetic (NDM) obese subjects.

Methods: Bulk shear rheology was performed on visceral (VAT) and subcutaneous (SAT) adipose tissue, collected from obese subjects undergoing elective bariatric surgery. Rheology was also performed on the remaining extracellular matrix (ECM) from decellularized VAT (VAT ECM). Linear mixed models were used to assess whether correlations existed between adipose tissue mechanical properties and DM status, sex, age, and body mass index (BMI).

Results: DM was not associated with significant differences in adipose tissue viscoelastic properties for any of the tissue types investigated. Tissue type dependent differences were however detected, with VAT having significantly lower shear storage and loss moduli than SAT and VAT ECM independent of DM status.

Conclusion: Although DM is typically associated with adipose tissue fibrosis, it is not associated with differences in macroscopic adipose tissue mechanical properties.

Keywords: Rheology; decellularized adipose tissue; diabetes mellitus; subcutaneous adipose tissue; visceral adipose tissue.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue* / physiopathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat
  • Male
  • Obesity*
  • Subcutaneous Fat