Most of what we know about adipose tissue is restricted to observations derived after an overnight fast. However, humans spend the majority of waking hours in a postprandial (fed) state, and it is unclear whether increasing adiposity impacts adipose tissue responses to feeding. The aim of this research was to investigate postprandial responses in adipose tissue across varying degrees of adiposity.
Thirty males aged 35–55 years with waist circumference 81–118 cm were divided equally into groups categorized as either lean, overweight or obese. Participants consumed a meal and insulinaemic, glycaemic and lipidaemic responses were monitored over 6 h. Subcutaneous adipose tissue samples were obtained at baseline and after 6 h to examine changes in gene expression and adipose tissue secretion of various adipokines.
Following consumption of the meal, insulin and glucose responses were higher with increased adiposity (total AUC effects of group; p = 0.058 and p = 0.027, respectively). At 6 h, significant time effects reflected increases in IL-6 (F = 14.7, p = 0.001) and MCP-1 (F = 10.7, p = 0.003) and reduction in IRS2 adipose tissue gene expression (F = 24.6, p < 0.001), all independent of adiposity. Ex vivo adipokine secretion from adipose tissue explants remained largely unchanged after feeding.
Increased systemic measures of postprandial metabolism with greater adiposity do not translate into increased inflammatory responses within adipose tissue. Instead, postprandial adipose tissue changes may represent a normal response to feeding or a (relatively) normalized response with increased adiposity due to either similar net exposure (i.e. per g of adipose) or reduced adipose tissue responsiveness.