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Table 1 Functions of visceral adipose tissue compared with subcutaneous adipose tissue.

From: HIV-associated adipose redistribution syndrome (HARS): definition, epidemiology and clinical impact

Visceral Adipose Tissue Subcutaneous Adipose Tissue
Major predictor of insulin resistance Preadipocytes have greater differentiation capacity
Associated with metabolic syndrome Unclear association with metabolic syndrome
Less responsive to adipogenic effects of insulin  
Portal drainage  
May enhance lipolysis of truncal subcutaneous adipose tissue May replenish visceral adipose tissue
Produces more interleukin-6 Produces leptin
Produces more plasminogen activator-1  
More surface glucocorticoid receptors  
High density of surface androgen receptors, inhibit expression of lipoprotein lipase and fatty acid uptake Estrogen promotes accumulation
Altered glucose uptake Less glucose uptake
Enzyme 11-β hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11-β HSD1) converts cortisone to cortisol Enzyme 11-β HSD1 barely detectable
Associated with impaired skeletal muscle fat oxidation  
Associated with atherosclerosis May protect against atherosclerosis
  1. Adapted from Freedland ES. Role of a critical visceral adipose tissue threshold (CVATT) in metabolic syndrome: implications for controlling dietary carbohydrates: a review. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2004;1(1):12. [13]