Ovarian Hormone Status and Abdominal Visceral Adipose Tissue Metabolism

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We examined abdominal sc and visceral adipose tissue metabolism in a sample of 19 regularly cycling premenopausal women (age 46.3 ± 3.7 yr) and 10 women with natural menopause or pharmacological ovarian suppression (age 51.1 ± 9.2 yr). Subcutaneous and visceral (omental, epiploic) adipose tissue biopsies were obtained during abdominal hysterectomies. Body composition and adipose tissue distribution were measured before the surgery by dual x-ray absorptiometry and computed tomography, respectively. Ovarian hormone-deficient women tended to be older (P = 0.08) and were characterized by increased visceral adipose tissue area (P < 0.05). Subcutaneous adipocyte size, lipoprotein lipase (LPL) activity, and basal lipolysis were not significantly different between groups. On the other hand, omental fat cell size was significantly higher in ovarian hormone-deficient women, compared with premenopausal women (P < 0.05). The omental/sc LPL activity ratio and omental adipocyte basal lipolysis were also significantly higher in ovarian hormone-deficient women (P < 0.05 for both comparisons). Significant positive correlations were found between visceral adipose tissue area and omental LPL activity (r = 0.54, P < 0.003), omental adipocyte basal lipolysis (r = 0.66, P < 0.0001), and omental fat cell size (r = 0.81, P < 0.0001). In multivariate analyses, ovarian status was no longer a significant predictor of adipose cell metabolism variables after visceral adipose tissue area was entered into the model, with the exception of the omental/sc LPL activity ratio, which remained independently associated with ovarian status. In conclusion, although the size of the visceral adipose tissue compartment was an important determinant of adipocyte metabolism in this depot, the increased omental/sc LPL activity ratio in ovarian hormone-deficient women supports the notion of a predominant visceral fat storage in these women.

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