Fat Distribution in Women Is Associated with Depot-Specific Transcriptomic Signatures and Chromatin Structure

Adeline Divoux, Katalin Sandor, Dora Bojcsuk, Fanchao Yi, Meghan E. Hopf, Joshua S. Smith, Balint L. Balint, Timothy F. Osborne, Steven R. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Preferential accumulation of fat in the upper body (apple shape) is associated with higher risk of developing metabolic syndrome relative to lower body fat (pear shape). We previously discovered that chromatin openness partially defined the transcriptome of preadipocytes isolated from abdominal and gluteofemoral fat. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying interindividual variation in body shape are unknown. Methods: Adipocyte fraction was isolated from abdominal and gluteofemoral fat biopsies of premenopausal women (age and body mass index matched) segregated initially only by their waist-to-hip ratio. We evaluated transcriptomic and chromatin accessibility using RNA sequencing and assay for transposase-accessible chromatin using sequencing (ATAC-seq) along with key clinical parameters. Results: Our data showed that higher lower body fat mass was associated with better lipid profile and free fatty acid decrease after glucose administration. Lipid and glucose metabolic pathways genes were expressed at higher levels in gluteofemoral adipocyte fraction in pears, whereas genes associated with inflammation were higher both in abdominal and gluteofemoral apple adipocyte fraction. Gluteofemoral adipocyte chromatin from pear-shaped women contained a significantly higher number of differentially open ATAC-seq peaks relative to chromatin from the apple-shaped gluteofemoral adipocytes. In contrast, abdominal adipocyte chromatin openness showed few differences between apple- and pear-shaped women. We revealed a correlation between gene transcription and open chromatin at the proximity of the transcriptional start site of some of the differentially expressed genes. Conclusions: Integration of data from all 3 approaches suggests that chromatin openness partially governs the transcriptome of gluteofemoral adipocytes and may be involved in the early metabolic syndrome predisposition associated with body shape.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberbvaa042
JournalJournal of the Endocrine Society
Issue number6
StatePublished - May 15 2020


  • adipocytes
  • chromatin openness
  • fat distribution
  • gene expression
  • gluteofemoral fat depot
  • metabolic syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


Dive into the research topics of 'Fat Distribution in Women Is Associated with Depot-Specific Transcriptomic Signatures and Chromatin Structure'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this