Obesity-associated inflammation in adipose tissue
Abstract: Background: Excess body fat, particularly in the visceral depot, is linked to increased mortality and morbidity, including the development of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Chronic low-grade inflammation in adipose tissue may be a key mediator of obesity-associated diseases. Importantly, specific pro-inflammatory cytokines have been shown to influence adipose tissue function and could therefore be a link to metabolic disorders. Circulating cytokine levels may also be increased in obesity and metabolic diseases. However, although fat distribution and inflammation are clearly linked to metabolic disorders, inflammatory gene expression in the different abdominal adipose depots has not been investigated in detail. The menopausal transition is followed by a centralization of body fat and increased adiposity. Notably, inflammatory changes in fat during the menopausal transition have not been characterized. Finally, there is a lack of studies investigating the long-term effects of weight loss on low-grade inflammation. The aim of this thesis was to characterize differences between fat depots and investigate putative changes in low-grade inflammation in adipose tissue and circulation following menopause or weight loss.Materials & Methods: The expression of inflammation-related genes was investigated in abdominal adipose tissue depots obtained from women with varying adiposity, before and after menopause or weight loss induced by surgery or dietary intervention. Circulating cytokine levels were analyzed using immunoassays. Results: Visceral fat displayed a distinct and adverse inflammatory profile compared with subcutaneous adipose tissues, and the higher gene expression in visceral fat was associated with adiposity. Postmenopausal women exhibited a higher expression of pro-inflammatory genes than premenopausal women that associated with central fat accumulation. There was also a menopause-related increase in circulating cytokine levels in postmenopausal women. After surgery-induced weight loss, there was a dramatic reduction in inflammatory gene expression followed by increased insulin sensitivity. We observed no alterations in circulating cytokine levels. Long-term dietary intervention, associated with weight loss, had favorable effects on inflammation in both adipose tissue and serum.Conclusion: Fat accumulation is linked to low-grade inflammation in abdominal adipose tissue. The unique inflammatory pattern of visceral fat suggests a distinct role in adipose tissue inflammation that is aggravated with increasing adiposity. In postmenopausal women, the adverse adipose inflammatory profile was associated with central fat accumulation, while higher circulating cytokine levels correlated with menopausal state/age. Our data from severely obese women undergoing surgery-induced weight loss clearly supports a link between adipose inflammation and insulin resistance. The long-term beneficial effects of weight loss were also demonstrated by the improved inflammatory profile after dietary intervention. In summary, excess body fat is clearly linked to adipose tissue inflammation. Long-term weight loss is accompanied by improved metabolic profile and reduced low-grade inflammation in fat.
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