Physicians' Academy for Cardiovascular Education

Subcutaneous fat cell lipolysis independent contributor to variations in plasma lipids

Subcutaneous Adipocyte Lipolysis Contributes to Circulating Lipid Levels

Literature - Rydén M and Arner P - Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2017 Jun 29, Epub ahead of print


Circulating cholesterol and triglyceride levels are important independent risk factors for development of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease [1,2]. As fatty acids have a role in dyslipidemia [3,4], one can think that fat cell lipolysis resulting in free fatty acids (FFAs) in the circulation, may affect the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. For example, high FFA levels may increase the hepatic production of LDL-c, which in turn may reduce HDL-c levels by increasing transfer of triglycerides to HDL leading to hydrolysis and thereby the formation of remnant cholesterol.

The release and storage of adipose FFAs equals the turnover of measurable fat cell triglycerides [5,6]. It has been shown that forms of dyslipidemia were linked to altered triglyceride turnover and that this was proportional to subcutaneous adipocyte lipolysis activity [7-9]. Therefore, this suggest that fat cell lipolysis may affect circulating lipid levels. In humans, catecholamines and natriuretic peptides have prolipolytic activity, whereas insulin is the major hormone with antilipolytic activity.

A large study including >1000 individuals was conducted to investigate the relationship between different effectors of adipocyte lipolysis and circulating lipid levels.

Main results


In this study, resistance to the antilipolytic effect of insulin and a high rate of basal lipolysis are associated with low HDL-c and high triglyceride levels. This was independent of classical risk factors influencing plasma lipids. Moreover, antilipolytic insulin sensitivity and basal lipolytic activity together explained 14% of variations in plasma triglycerides or HDL-c, thereby suggesting clinical importance for dyslipidemia.


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