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We examined the hypothesis that adipocyte dysfunction in mice fed a high-fat (HF) diet can be prevented by lentiviral-mediated and adipocyte specific-targeting delivery of the human heme oxygenase-1 (aP2-HO-1). A bolus intracardial injection of aP2-HO-1 resulted in expression of human HO-1 for up to 9.5 months. Transduction of aP2-HO-1 increased human HO-1 expression in fat tissues without affecting murine HO-1. In mice fed a HF diet, aP2-HO-1 transduction attenuated the increases in body weight, blood glucose, blood pressure, and inflammatory cytokines, as well as the content of both visceral and subcutaneous fat. Transduction of aP2-HO-1 increased the numbers of adipocytes of small cell size (P<0.05), insulin sensitivity (P<0.05), adiponectin levels, as well as vascular relaxation to acetylcholine compared with HF mice administered the aP2-green fluorescent protein. Adipocytes of mice fed a HF diet expressed high levels of peroxisome proliferator activator receptor, aP2, C/EBP, and Wnt5b proteins and displayed marked increases in Peg1/Mesoderm specific transcript (P<0.03). Transduction of aP2-HO-1 lowered the elevated levels of these proteins and increased Sonic hedgehog, Wnt10b, and β-catenin (P<0.05). Inhibition of HO activity by administration of tin mesoporphyrin to HF-fed mice transduced with the aP2-HO-1 reversed the decrease in Peg1/Mesoderm-specific transcript, TNFα, and MCP-1 levels. Collectively, this novel study demonstrates that adipocyte-specific overexpression of HO-1 attenuates HF-mediated adiposity and vascular dysfunction; increases insulin sensitivity; and improves adipocyte function by increasing adiponectin, Shh, and WNT10b, and by decreasing inflammatory cytokines. These effects are reversed by the HO activity inhibitor, stannous mesoporphyrin.