Modulation of adipocyte lipoprotein lipase expression as a strategy for preventing or treating visceral obesity

M F McCarty
Medical Hypotheses 2001, 57 (2): 192-200
As compared to subcutaneous adipocytes, visceral adipocytes have high basal lipolysis, are highly sensitive to catecholamines, and are poorly sensitive to insulin; these traits are amplified when visceral adipocytes hypertrophy. As a result, enlarged visceral fat stores tend to flood the portal circulation with free fatty acids at metabolically inappropriate times when fatty acids are unlikely to be oxidized, thus exposing tissues to excessive free fatty acid levels and giving rise to the insulin resistance syndrome. A logical approach to preventing or correcting visceral obesity is to down-regulate the lipoprotein lipase (LPL) activity of visceral adipocytes relative to that expressed in subcutaneous adipocytes and skeletal muscle. IGF-I activity appears to be a primary determinant of visceral LPL activity in humans; systemic IGF-I activity is decreased when diurnal insulin secretion is low, when hepatocytes detect a relative paucity of certain essential amino acids, and when estrogens are administered orally. The ability of alpha-glucosidase inhibitor therapy to selectively reduce visceral adiposity suggests that down-regulation of diurnal insulin secretion and/or IGF-I activity may indeed have a greater impact on LPL activity in visceral fat than in subcutaneous fat. Thus, low-glycemic-index, vegan, high-protein, or hypocaloric diets can be expected to decrease visceral LPL activity, as can postmenopausal estrogen therapy. Furthermore, estrogen enhances the LPL activity of non-pathogenic gluteofemoral fat cells, whereas testosterone decreases visceral LPL activity in men; this may explain why sex hormone replacement in middle-aged people of both sexes has a favorable impact on visceral fat and insulin sensitivity. Beta-adrenergic activity suppresses transcription of LPL in adipocytes; this phenomenon may contribute to the favorable impact of exercise training on visceral obesity; conceivably, preadministration of safe drugs that boost catecholamine activity (caffeine, yohimbine) could potentiate this beneficial effect of exercise. Glucocorticoids selectively increase the LPL activity of visceral adipocytes; while there is currently no convincing evidence that psychological stress is a major determinant of visceral adiposity, or that stress management techniques can help to correct visceral obesity, reports that anxiolytic therapy can improve glycemic control in type 2 diabetes should encourage further research along these lines.

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