Impaired mitochondrial respiration in upper compared to lower body differentiated human adipocytes and adipose tissue

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2024 Feb 20:dgae086. doi: 10.1210/clinem/dgae086. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Context: Abdominal obesity is associated with increased cardiometabolic disease risk, while lower body fat seems to confer protection against obesity-related complications. The functional differences between upper and lower body adipose tissue (AT) remain poorly understood.

Objective: We aimed to examine whether mitochondrial respiration is impaired in abdominal as compared to femoral differentiated human multipotent adipose-derived stem cells (hMADS; primary outcome) and AT in postmenopausal women.

Design: In this cross-sectional study, 23 postmenopausal women with normal weight or obesity were recruited at the University of Birmingham/Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham (Birmingham, UK). We collected abdominal and femoral subcutaneous AT biopsies to determine mitochondrial oxygen consumption rates in differentiated abdominal and femoral hMADS. Furthermore, we assessed OXPHOS protein expression and mtDNA content in abdominal and femoral AT as well as hMADS. Finally, we explored in vivo fractional oxygen extraction and carbon dioxide release across abdominal and femoral subcutaneous AT in a subgroup of the same individuals with normal weight or obesity.

Results: We found lower basal and maximal uncoupled mitochondrial oxygen consumption rates in abdominal compared to femoral hMADS. In line, in vivo fractional oxygen extraction and carbon dioxide release were lower across abdominal than femoral AT. OXPHOS protein expression and mtDNA content did not significantly differ between abdominal and femoral differentiated hMADS and AT.

Conclusion: The present findings demonstrate that in vitro mitochondrial respiration and in vivo oxygen fractional extraction are lower in upper compared to lower body differentiated hMADS and AT, respectively, in postmenopausal women.

Keywords: Adipose tissue; body fat distribution; mitochondria; obesity; oxygen consumption.