Obesity phenotypes: depot-differences in adipose tissue and their clinical implications

  • Valeria GuglielmiEmail author
  • Paolo Sbraccia
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Italian Society of Obesity (SIO) Reviews


Obesity, defined as excess fat mass, increases risks for multiple chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and several types of cancer. Beyond adiposity per se, the pattern of fat distribution, android or truncal as compared to gynoid or peripheral, has a profound influence on systemic metabolism and hence risk for obesity complications. Not only factors as genetics, environment, gender, and age account for the apparent compartmentalization of white adipose tissue (WAT) in the body. Indeed, the heterogeneity among different anatomical depots also appears to stem from their intrinsic diversity, including cellular developmental origin, proliferative capacity, glucose and lipid metabolism, insulin sensitivity, cytokine pattern, thermogenic ability, and vascularization. Under the obese condition, these depot-specific differences translate into specific WAT distribution patterns, giving rise to different cardiometabolic consequences. This review summarizes the clinical and mechanistic evidence for the depot-specific differences and the phenotypic characteristics of different WAT depots that link their depot-specific biology to obesity-specific complications.


Obesity White adipose tissue   Fat depots Fat distribution 


Compliance with ethical standards


This work was supported by a Grant from the Ministero della Salute (Project no. 45/RF-2013-02357791).

Conflict of interest

Valeria Guglielmi declares that she has no conflict of interest. Paolo Sbraccia declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Systems MedicineUniversity of Rome Tor VergataRomeItaly
  2. 2.Internal Medicine Unit and Obesity CenterUniversity Hospital Policlinico Tor VergataRomeItaly

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