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Luigi Bouchard, Marie-Claude Vohl, Yves Deshaies, Caroline Rhéaume, Marleen Daris and André Tchernof

Introduction: Adipose tissue is now recognized as an endocrine organ and secretes numerous molecules and proteins potentially involved in the physiopathology of the metabolic syndrome. Recently, we have determined the transcriptome of omental adipose tissue, leading to the identification of a new candidate gene for obesity-related metabolic complications, zinc finger protein 36 (ZFP36), which is known to down-regulate tumor necrosis factor-α TNF-α) expression.

Objective: The objective of this study was to further examine the relationship between ZFP36 gene expression levels, obesity-related phenotypes, and adipokines.

Methods: Abdominal subcutaneous and omental adipose tissue samples were obtained from 46 women undergoing elective gynecological surgery. Adipose tissue ZFP36 mRNA abundance was assessed by quantitative real-time PCR. Body fat accumulation and distribution were measured by dual X-ray absorptiometry and computed tomography. Fasting blood levels of glucose, insulin, and lipids, and circulating TNF-α, interleukin-6 (IL-6), resistin, and adiponectin were also measured.

Results: No correlation was observed between s.c. ZFP36 mRNA levels and any of the phenotypes tested. However, although omental ZFP36 mRNA levels were not correlated with measures of body fatness and lipid profile, they were negatively correlated with fasting insulin levels (R = −0.31; P = 0.05), the insulin resistance index (HOMA-IR; R = −0.31; P = 0.05), and 2-h post-glucose insulinemia (R = −0.32; P = 0.05). Omental ZFP36 mRNA abundance was also positively correlated with adiponectinemia (R = 0.35; P = 0.03) but not with circulating TNF-α, IL-6, and resistin concentrations.

Conclusion: These results suggest that ZFP36 gene expression in omental adipose tissue, but not in abdominal s.c. fat, may offer partial protection against the development of insulin resistance and diabetes.

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Andréanne Michaud, Sofia Laforest, Mélissa Pelletier, Mélanie Nadeau, Serge Simard, Marleen Daris, Mathieu Lebœuf, Hubert Vidal, Alain Géloën and André Tchernof


Visceral obesity is independently related to numerous cardiometabolic alterations, with adipose tissue dysfunction as a central feature.


To examine whether omental (OM) and subcutaneous (SC) adipocyte size populations in women relate to visceral obesity, cardiometabolic risk factors and adipocyte lipolysis independent of total adiposity.

Design and methods

OM and SC fat samples were obtained during gynecological surgery in 60 women (mean age, 46.1±5.9 years; mean BMI, 27.1±4.5 kg/m2 (range, 20.3–41.1 kg/m2)). Fresh samples were treated with osmium tetroxide and were analyzed with a Multisizer Coulter. Cell size distributions were computed for each sample with exponential and Gaussian function fits.


Computed tomography-measured visceral fat accumulation was the best predictor of larger cell populations as well as the percentage of small cells in both OM and SC fat (P<0.0001 for all). Accordingly, women with visceral obesity had larger cells in the main population and higher proportion of small adipocytes independent of total adiposity (P≤0.05). Using linear regression analysis, we found that women characterized by larger-than-predicted adipocytes in either OM or SC adipose tissue presented higher visceral adipose tissue area, increased percentage of small cells and homeostasis model assessment insulin resistance index as well as higher OM adipocyte isoproterenol-, forskolin- and dbcAMP-stimulated lipolysis compared to women with smaller-than-predicted adipocytes, independent of total adiposity (P≤0.05).


Excess visceral adipose tissue accumulation is a strong marker of both adipocyte hypertrophy and increased number of small cells in either fat compartment, which relates to higher insulin resistance index and lipolytic response, independent of total adiposity.