The biological mechanism by which obesity predisposes to insulin resistance is unclear. One hypothesis is that larger adipose cells disturb metabolism via increased lipolysis. While studies have demonstrated that cell size increases in proportion to BMI, it has not been clearly shown that adipose cell size, independent of BMI, is associated with insulin resistance.
The aim of this study was to test this widely held assumption by comparing adipose cell size distribution in 28 equally obese, otherwise healthy individuals who represented extreme ends of the spectrum of insulin sensitivity, as defined by the modified insulin suppression test. SUBJECTS AND METHODS: Subcutaneous periumbilical adipose tissue biopsy samples were fixed in osmium tetroxide and passed through the Beckman Coulter Multisizer to obtain cell size distributions. Insulin sensitivity was quantified by the modified insulin suppression test. Quantitative real-time PCR for adipose cell differentiation genes was performed for 11 subjects. RESULTS: All individuals exhibited a bimodal cell size distribution. Contrary to expectations, the mean diameter of the larger cells was not significantly different between the insulin-sensitive and insulin-resistant individuals. Moreover, insulin resistance was associated with a higher ratio of small to large cells (1.66 +/- 1.03 vs 0.94 +/- 0.50, p = 0.01). Similar cell size distributions were observed for isolated adipose cells. The real-time PCR results showed two- to threefold lower expression of genes encoding markers of adipose cell differentiation (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma1 PPARgamma1, PPARgamma2, GLUT4, adiponectin, sterol receptor element binding protein 1c) in insulin-resistant compared with insulin-sensitive individuals. CONCLUSIONS/INTERPRETATION: These results suggest that after controlling for obesity, insulin resistance is associated with an expanded population of small adipose cells and decreased expression of differentiation markers, suggesting that impairment in adipose cell differentiation may contribute to obesity-associated insulin resistance.? ? Adipose tissue inflammation has recently been linked to the pathogenesis of obesity and insulin resistance. C1 complex comprising three distinct proteins, C1q, C1r, and C1s, involves the key initial activation of the classic pathway of complement and plays an important role in the initiation of inflammatory process. In this study, we investigated adipose expression and regulation of C1 complement subcomponents and C1 activation regulator decorin in obesity and insulin resistance. Expression of C1q in epididymal adipose tissue was increased consistently in ob/ob mice, Zucker obese rats, and high fat-diet-induced obese (HF-DIO) mice. Decorin was found to increase in expression in Zucker obese rats and HF-DIO mice but decrease in ob/ob mice. After TZD administration, C1q and decorin expression was reversed in Zucker obese rats and HF-DIO mice. Increased expression of C1 complement and decorin was observed in both primary adipose and stromal vascular cells isolated from Zucker obese rats. Upregulation of C1r and C1s expression was also perceived in adipose cells from insulin-resistant humans. Furthermore, expression of C1 complement and decorin is dysregulated in TNF-alpha-induced insulin resistance in 3T3-L1 adipocytes and cultured rat adipose cells as they become insulin resistant after 24-h culture. These data suggests that both adipose and immune cells are the sources for abnormal adipose tissue production of C1 complement and decorin in obesity. Our findings also demonstrate that excessive activation of the classic pathway of complement commonly occurs in obesity, suggesting its possible role in adipose tissue inflammation and insulin resistance.? ? We characterised insulin resistance, metabolic defects and endocrine dysfunction in cultured adipose cells and examined the autocrine or paracrine roles of cytokines/adipokines in the progression of insulin resistance. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Rat primary adipose cells were prepared and cultured for 24 and 48 h. Insulin resistance and gene expression were examined by glucose uptake assay, cDNA microarray and real-time RT-PCR. RESULTS: After 24 h in culture, the fold increase of insulin-stimulated glucose uptake in adipose cells was markedly reduced; after 48 h the response of the cells to insulin decreased. cDNA microarray analysis showed that the expression of 514 genes was altered in adipose cells after 24 h in culture. The dysregulated genes included those involved in the citric acid cycle and in fatty acid and pyruvate metabolism. Specifically, the following genes were all downregulated: genes encoding lipolytic and lipogenic enzymes; uncoupling protein 1 and 2 genes; peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma, coactivator 1 alpha gene. This indicates that lipolytic and lipogenic activity, as well as mitochondria capacity decline in adipose cells cultured for 24 h. The mRNAs encoding 40 adipokines were also dysregulated in cultured cells. Strikingly, the dysregulated adipokines in cultured cells and in freshly isolated adipose cells from insulin-resistant Zucker fa/fa rats displayed a similar pattern with regard to protein functions. Also striking was the fact that progression of insulin resistance was promoted by the adipokines secreted from insulin-resistant adipose tissue or cells. CONCLUSIONS/ INTERPRETATION: Our data demonstrate that the impairment of metabolism and endocrine dysfunction in cultured adipose cells mimics the insulin resistance occurring in vivo. Cytokines and adipokines appear to play a critical role in the progression of insulin resistance in adipose cells.

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