, Volume 50, Issue 1, pp 195-201
Date: 15 Nov 2006

Peroxisome proliferator activated receptor gamma activity is low in mature primary human visceral adipocytes



The amount of visceral fat mass strongly relates to insulin resistance in humans. The transcription factor peroxisome proliferator activated receptor gamma (PPARG) is abundant in adipocytes and regulates genes of importance for insulin sensitivity. Our objective was to study PPARG activity in human visceral and subcutaneous adipocytes and to compare this with the most common model for human disease, the mouse.

Materials and methods

We transfected primary human adipocytes with a plasmid encoding firefly luciferase controlled by PPARG response element (PPRE) from the acyl-CoA-oxidase gene and measured PPRE activity by emission of light.


We found that PPRE activity was 6.6-fold higher (median) in adipocytes from subcutaneous than from omental fat from the same subjects (n = 23). The activity was also 6.2-fold higher in subcutaneous than in intra-abdominal fat cells when we used a PPARG ligand-binding domain-GAL4 fusion protein as reporter, demonstrating that the difference in PPRE activity was due to different levels of activity of the PPARG receptor in the two fat depots. Stimulation with 5 μmol/l rosiglitazone did not induce a PPRE activity in visceral adipocytes that was as high as basal levels in subcutaneous adipocytes. Interestingly, in mice of two different strains the PPRE activity was similar in visceral and subcutaneous fat cells.


We found considerably lower PPARG activity in visceral than in subcutaneous primary human adipocytes. Further studies of the molecular mechanisms behind this difference could lead to development of drugs that target the adverse effects of visceral obesity.