Metabolic Characteristics of Visceral and Subcutaneous

The main function of adipose tissue is to store and break down fat based on energy excess or need, respectively. The uptake of fat is regulated by the enzyme lipoprotein lipase (LPL). This enzyme hydrolyzes triacylglycerols into free fatty acids, which can then be transported into the adipocyte and reesterified for storage. Greater LPL activity is associated with greater accumulation of fat. In pre-menopausal women, its activity is higher in the gluteal-femoral adipose areas than in the abdominal areas. The opposite is true in men, in whom LPL activity is the same or higher in the abdominal adipose areas than in the gluteal-femoral regions.

The breakdown of fat (lipolysis) is regulated by the enzyme hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL). This enzyme releases free fatty acids, which are then released into the bloodstream and taken up by tissues, with the exception of the brain and red blood cells, for energy use or storage. The rate of basal lipolysis is higher in gluteal-femoral fat tissue than in abdominal tissue in both men and women. This may be due to greater cell size in that region. In the abdominal area, basal lipolysis is higher in subcutaneous fat than in visceral fat. However, when stimulated hormonally, rates of lipolysis may differ between men and women. Lipolytic rates have been shown to be higher in the visceral compared to the subcutaneous region in men, whereas the opposite trend is seen in women.

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