BACKGROUND. Upper-body obesity (UBO) results in insulin resistance with regards to free fatty acid (FFA) release; how this differs by fat depot and sex between adults with UBO and lean adults is unknown. We tested the hypothesis that insulin suppression of FFA release from the splanchnic bed, leg fat, and upper-body nonsplanchnic (UBNS) adipose tissue would be impaired in UBO. METHODS. Fourteen volunteers with UBO (7 men and 7 women) and 14 healthy volunteers with normal weight (7 men and 7 women) participated in studies that included femoral artery, femoral vein, and hepatic vein catheterization. We then measured leg and splanchnic plasma flow as well as FFA kinetics (using isotopic tracers) under overnight fasting as well as low- and high-dose insulin infusion using the insulin clamp technique. RESULTS. We found the expected insulin resistance in UBO; the most quantitatively important difference between adults with UBO and lean adults was greater FFA release from UBNS adipose tissue when plasma insulin concentrations were in the postprandial, physiological range. There were obesity, but not sex, differences in the regulation of splanchnic FFA release and sex differences in the regulation of leg FFA release. CONCLUSION. Reversing the defects in insulin-regulated UBNS adipose tissue FFA release would have the greatest effect on systemic FFA abnormalities in UBO. FUNDING. These studies were supported by the US Public Health Service (grants DK45343 and DK40484), the Novo Nordic Foundation (grant NNF18OC0031804 and NNF16OC0021406), and the Independent Research Fund Denmark (grant 8020-00420B).


Søren Nielsen, Michael D. Jensen


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