Is Visceral Fat Involved in the Pathogenesis of the Metabolic Syndrome? Human Model


  • Michael D. Jensen

    Corresponding author
    1. Endocrine Research Unit, Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Nutrition, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
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Endocrine Research Unit, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street SW, Rm 5-194 Joseph, Rochester, MN 55905. E-mail:


Objective: To review the evidence for and against the role of visceral adipose tissue as a major contributor to the metabolic complications of obesity through abnormal regulation of lipolysis.

Research Methods and Procedures: Data from investigators in the field who have studied visceral adiposity and metabolic health and/or regional and systemic free fatty acid (FFA) release were considered.

Results: Although visceral fat mass was positively correlated with adverse health consequences and excess FFA availability, visceral fat was not the source of excess systemic FFA availability. Upper body non-visceral fat contributes the majority of FFAs in lean, obese, diabetic, and non-diabetic humans. Increasing amounts of visceral fat probably result in greater hepatic FFA delivery.

Discussion: Systemic, as opposed to hepatic, insulin resistance is unlikely to be caused by high rates of visceral adipose tissue lipolysis.