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Journal of Obesity
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 489187, 5 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/489187
Review Article

Role of Subcutaneous Adipose Tissue in the Pathogenesis of Insulin Resistance

Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology and Institute for Translational Science (ITS), University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Galveston, TX 77555-1060, USA

Received 23 January 2013; Accepted 4 March 2013

Academic Editor: Manisha S. Chandalia

Copyright © 2013 Pavankumar Patel and Nicola Abate. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Burden of obesity has increased significantly in the United States over last few decades. Association of obesity with insulin resistance and related cardiometabolic problems is well established. Traditionally, adipose tissue in visceral fat depot has been considered a major culprit in development of insulin resistance. However, growing body of the literature has suggested that adipose tissue in subcutaneous fat depot, not only due to larger volume but also due to inherent functional characteristics, can have significant impact on development of insulin resistance. There are significant differences in functional characteristics of subcutaneous abdominal/truncal versus gluteofemoral depots. Decreased capacity for adipocyte differentiation and angiogenesis along with adipocyte hypertrophy can trigger vicious cycle of inflammation in subcutaneous adipose tissue and subsequent ectopic fat deposition. It is important to shift focus from fat content to functional heterogeneity in adipose tissue depots to better understand the relative role of subcutaneous adipose tissue in metabolic complications of obesity. Therapeutic lifestyle change continues to be the most important intervention in clinical practice at any level of increased adiposity. Future pharmaceutical interventions aimed at improving adipose tissue function in various subcutaneous depots have potential to help maintain adequate insulin sensitivity and reduce risk for development of insulin resistance complications.