In adipose tissue from both obese mice and humans, plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 (PAI-1) expression has been reported to be upregulated to levels of increased plasma PAI-1. This elevated expression has been shown to be partly controlled by tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha in mice. In humans, increased PAI-1 expression is associated with insulin resistance characterized by visceral fat accumulation. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the expression pattern of PAI-1 and TNF-alpha (antigen and mRNA) in visceral human adipose fat in comparison with subcutaneous (SC) fat. Because transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta1 is a potent inducer of PAI-1 synthesis and has been shown to influence adipocyte metabolism, this work was extended to TGF-beta1 quantification. A total of 32 obese individuals (BMI 42 +/- 6.8 kg/m2) were investigated. Freshly collected visceral adipose tissue did not exhibit a higher content of PAI-1 or TGF-beta1 than did SC tissue. Although most of the TNF-alpha values were at the detection limit of the methods, TNF-alpha antigen was 3-fold higher and TNF-alpha mRNA was 1.2-fold higher in visceral fat. The levels of tissue TGF-beta1 antigen correlated well with those of PAI-1 antigen, regardless of the fat depot studied (SC tissue: n = 21, r = 0.72, P = 0.0006; visceral tissue: n = 20, r = 0.49, P < 0.03), and they were both significantly associated with BMI. Conversely, no relationship was observed between the levels of TNF-alpha and PAI-1 or TNF-alpha and BMI. Tissue PAI-1 levels were also significantly correlated with those of circulating PAI-1. These results describe, in severe obesity, a proportional increase in tissue PAI-1 and TGF-beta1 in visceral and SC tissues. This increased PAI-1 expression could be the result of tissue cytokine disturbances, such as elevated TGF-beta1 expression.

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