, Volume 45, Issue 8, pp 693-700,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 14 Jul 2010

trans-Fatty Acid Isomers in Adipose Tissue Have Divergent Associations with Adiposity in Humans


The aim of this study was to evaluate the association between adipose tissue trans-fatty acid isomers and adiposity. This cross-sectional study included 1,785 subjects from Costa Rica. Fatty acid concentrations (as a percentage of the total fatty acids) in subcutaneous adipose tissue were assessed by gas–liquid chromatography. Dietary intakes were assessed with a food frequency questionnaire. Multivariate linear regression models were used to relate adipose tissue trans-fatty acid content to BMI, waist circumference, and skinfold thickness while adjusting for age, sex, and area of residence. To account for variations in lifestyle, we adjusted for smoking, physical activity, income, self-reported history of diabetes and hypertension, and for adipose tissue alpha-linolenic acid and energy intake in a third model. After adjustments, positive associations were found between 18:2t-fatty acids (primarily from partially hydrogenated oils) and BMI, waist circumference, and skinfold thickness (P for each association <0.01). Rumenic acid was positively associated with skinfold thickness (P < 0.0001), but not with BMI or waist circumference (P > 0.05). Inverse associations were found between 16:1n-7t-fatty acids and skinfold thickness and between 18:1t-fatty acids and BMI and waist circumference (P < 0.0001). This study suggests that individual trans-fatty acid isomers may have divergent effects on adiposity. 18:2t-fatty acids show consistent positive associations with measures of adiposity. These isomer-specific associations are an interesting new finding. Other prospective and intervention studies are necessary to examine these relationships further.