Although metabolic disturbances are often observed in obese patients, increased accumulation of visceral adipose tissue (AT) has been shown to be more closely associated with high fasting triglyceride (TG) and insulin levels as well as with low HDL cholesterol concentrations than with excess body fatness per se. Interestingly, the fasting concentration of plasma TGs has been shown to be an important determinant of the magnitude and duration of the postprandial TG response. Yet little is known about the respective contributions of obesity versus excess visceral AT to the variation in postprandial TG clearance. In the present study, we examined potential differences in postprandial triglyceride-rich lipoprotein (TRL) responses in subjects characterized by high versus low levels of visceral AT. In a sample of 43 men (mean age: 41.3 +/- 9.6 years), we found that both excess body fat and visceral obesity were associated with increased postprandial TG responses in total TRL (r = 0.33-0.45). We also found a strong relationship between fasting plasma TG levels and postprandial total TRL-TG concentrations (r = 0.79, P < 0.0001). When matched for total body fat mass, individuals with high levels of visceral AT (> or =130 cm2; n = 10) as assessed by computed tomography were characterized by increased medium- and small-TRL-TG responses (P < 0.05) compared with subjects with low visceral AT accumulation (<130 cm2; n = 10). Moreover, this elevated response of small-TRL triglycerides noted in men with high levels of visceral AT was not accompanied by a concomitant increased retinyl palmitate response in this TRL fraction, suggesting that visceral obesity in men is accompanied by higher postprandial VLDL production than is found in obese men with lower levels of visceral AT. Increased postprandial insulin and free fatty acid (FFA) responses were also noted in men with high levels of visceral AT. Finally, postheparin plasma lipoprotein lipase activity was negatively correlated with the total-TRL-TG response in a subsample of 32 individuals (r = -0.37, P < 0.05). The results of the present study suggest that visceral obesity is associated with an impaired postprandial TG clearance. Furthermore, the exaggerated postprandial FFA response observed in subjects with high visceral AT suggests that visceral obesity may contribute to fasting and postprandial hypertriglyceridemia by altering FFA metabolism in the postprandial state.

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