• adipocytes;
  • glucocorticoids;
  • homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance;
  • Pima Indians;
  • adipose tissue


Objective: Increased mRNA and activity levels of 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11βHSD1) in human adipose tissue (AT) are associated with obesity and insulin resistance. The aim of our study was to investigate whether 11βHSD1 expression or activity in abdominal subcutaneous AT of non-diabetic subjects are associated with subsequent changes in body weight and insulin resistance [homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR)].

Research Methods and Procedures: Prospective analyses were performed in 20 subjects (two whites and 18 Pima Indians) who had baseline measurements of 11βHSD1 mRNA and activity in whole AT (follow-up, 0.3 to 4.9 years) and in 47 Pima Indians who had baseline assessments of 11βHSD1 mRNA in isolated adipocytes (follow-up, 0.8 to 5.3 years).

Results: In whole AT, although 11βHSD1 mRNA levels showed positive associations with changes in weight and HOMA-IR, 11βHSD1 activity was associated with changes in HOMA-IR but not in body weight. 11βHSD1 mRNA levels in isolated adipocytes were not associated with follow-up changes in any of the anthropometric or metabolic variables.

Discussion: Our results indicate that increased expression of 11βHSD1 in subcutaneous abdominal AT may contribute to risk of worsening obesity and insulin resistance. This prospective relationship does not seem to be mediated by increased 11βHSD1 expression in adipocytes.