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Gene expression profiling in subcutaneous, visceral and epigastric adipose tissues of patients with extreme obesity



The goal of the present study was to identify differences in gene expression between SAT, VAT and EAT depots in Class III severely obese individuals.


Human subcutaneous (SAT) and visceral (VAT) adipose tissues exhibit differential gene expression profiles. There is little information, however, about the other proximal white adipose tissue, epigastric (EAT), in terms of its function and contribution to metabolism.

Subjects and methods:

Using RNA from adipose biospecimens obtained from Class III severely obese patients undergoing open Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery, we compared gene expression profiles between SAT, VAT and EAT, using microarrays validated by real-time quantitative PCR.


The three depots were found to share 1907 genes. VAT had the greatest number of genes (66) expressed exclusively in this depot, followed by SAT (23), and then EAT (14). Moreover, VAT shared more genes with EAT (65) than with SAT (38). Further analyses using ratios of SAT/EAT, VAT/EAT and SAT/VAT identified specific as well as overlapping networks and pathways of genes representing dermatological diseases, inflammation, cell cycle and growth, cancer and development. Targeted analysis of genes, having a role in adipose tissue development and function, revealed that Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor Gamma Coactivator 1-alpha (PGC1-α) that regulates the precursor of the hormone Irisin (FNCD5) were abundantly expressed in all three fat depots, along with fibroblast growth factors (FGF) FGF1, FGF7 and FGF10, whereas, FGF19 and FGF21 were undetectable.


These data indicate that EAT has more in common with VAT, suggesting similar metabolic potential. The human epigastric adipose depot could have a significant functional role in metabolic diseases and should be further investigated.

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This research was supported by research funds from the Geisinger Clinic and the National Institute of Health grants DK072488 (GSG, CDS, GA) and DK088231 (GSG) and DK091601 (GSG). We would like to thank Dr Charles Schworer and Ms Alicia Golden for help with the microarray experiments and the data analyses.

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Correspondence to G Argyropoulos.

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Gerhard, G., Styer, A., Strodel, W. et al. Gene expression profiling in subcutaneous, visceral and epigastric adipose tissues of patients with extreme obesity. Int J Obes 38, 371–378 (2014).

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