Plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 (PAI-1) is likely to play a role in vascular disease, primarily in subjects with android obesity. It has been demonstrated that PAI-1 is overexpressed in adipose tissue from obese subjects and that visceral adipose tissue produced more PAI-1 than subcutaneous fat. In the present study, the effect of insulin and glucocorticoids, which are key mediators of adipose tissue metabolism, was examined in relation to PAI-1 synthesis by human adipose tissue explants (HAT), collagenase isolated human adipocytes (IHA), cultured human stromal cells (cSC), and differentiated adipocytes from the murine clonal cell line 3T3-F442A. A significant increase in PAI-1 antigen release (1.5-fold) from HAT was detectable after 16 h of treatment with insulin concentrations of at least 10(-8) mol/l. This was associated with a PAI-1 mRNA increase. Concomitant addition of insulin (10(-8) mol/l) to forskolin (5 x 10(-5) mol/l) reversed the decrease in PAI-1 antigen caused by forskolin alone. No effect on PAI-1 antigen was observed when insulin was incubated with IHA or cSC. 3T3 F442A cells were sensitive to insulin with a four- and twofold increase in PAI-1 antigen and mRNA levels, respectively, after 16 h of stimulation with 10(-8) mol/l. Dexamethasone (DXM) significantly enhanced PAI-1 antigen and mRNA expression by HAT (1.5- and 2.5-fold increase, respectively) at concentrations of at least 10(-8) mol/l. A higher stimulation was observed with IHA (sevenfold increase) and with the differentiated 3T3 F442 cell line. Cortisol was found to be less potent than DXM. No effect was observed when glucocorticoids were incubated with cSC. Coincubation of HAT with insulin (10(-7) mol/l) and DXM (10(-7) mol/l) led to an additive effect on PAI-1 synthesis. These results support the hypothesis that PAI-1 expression in human adipose tissue is controlled by insulin and glucocorticoids and may help to explain the increase in plasma PAI-1 levels observed in patients with android obesity.

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