Lower thigh subcutaneous and higher visceral abdominal adipose tissue content both contribute to insulin resistance

Francesca Amati, Marjorie Pennant, Koichiro Azuma, John J. Dubé, Frederico G.S. Toledo, Andrea P. Rossi, David E. Kelley, Bret H. Goodpaster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)


It is well known that visceral adipose tissue (VAT) is associated with insulin resistance (IR). Considerable debate remains concerning the potential positive effect of thigh subcutaneous adipose tissue (TSAT). Our objective was to observe whether VAT and TSAT are opposite, synergistic or additive for both peripheral and hepatic IR. Fifty-two volunteers (21 male/31 female) between 30 and 75 years old were recruited from the general population. All subjects were sedentary overweight or obese (mean BMI 33.0 ± 3.4 kg/m 2). Insulin sensitivity was determined by a 4-h hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp with stable isotope tracer dilution. Total body fat and lean body mass were determined by dual X-ray absorptiometry. Abdominal and mid-thigh adiposity was determined by computed tomography. VAT was negatively associated with peripheral insulin sensitivity, while TSAT, in contrast, was positively associated with peripheral insulin sensitivity. Subjects with a combination of low VAT and high TSAT had the highest insulin sensitivity, subjects with a combination of high VAT and low TSAT were the most insulin resistant. These associations remained significant after adjusting for age and gender. These data confirm that visceral excess abdominal adiposity is associated with IR across a range of middle-age to older men and women, and further suggest that higher thigh subcutaneous fat is favorably associated with better insulin sensitivity. This strongly suggests that these two distinct fat distribution phenotypes should both be considered in IR as important determinants of cardiometabolic risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1115-1117
Number of pages3
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2012 May

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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