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Keywords:

  • free fatty acids;
  • lipolysis;
  • gene expression;
  • regional blood flow;
  • regional adipose tissue

Abstract

Objectives: Fat in the lower body is not associated with the same risk of cardiovascular disease as fat in the upper body. Is this explained by differences in the physiological functioning of the two depots? This study had two objectives: 1) to determine whether fat mobilization and blood flow differ between gluteal and abdominal adipose tissues in humans, and 2) to develop a new technique to assess gluteal adipose tissue function directly.

Research Methods and Procedures: We performed detailed in vivo studies of adipose tissue function involving the assessment of fat mobilization by measurement of adipose tissue blood flows, arterio-venous differences of metabolites across each depot, and gene expression in tissue biopsies in a small-scale physiological study.

Results: Gluteal adipose tissue has a lower blood flow (67% lower, p < 0.05) and lower hormone-sensitive lipase rate of action (87% lower, p < 0.05) than abdominal adipose tissue. Lipoprotein lipase rate of action and mRNA expression are not different between the depots. This is the first demonstration of a novel technique to directly investigate gluteal adipose tissue metabolism.

Discussion: Direct assessment of fasting adipose tissue metabolism in defined depots show that the buttock is metabolically “silent” in terms of fatty acid release compared with the abdomen.