Female adipose tissue has improved adaptability and metabolic health compared to males in aged obesity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


External Institution(s)

  • University of Michigan, Ann Arbor


Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1725-1746
Number of pages22
Issue number2
StatusPublished - Jan 26 2020


Aging, like obesity, is associated with metabolic and inflammatory alterations within adipose tissue in older individuals. Younger females are protected from adipose inflammation, but older post-menopausal females exhibit exaggerated visceral adiposity correlated with increased disease risk. Obesity accelerates the onset and progression of age-associated diseases, but it is unclear if aging and obesity drive adipose tissue dysfunction in a sexually dimorphic fashion. We investigated adipose tissue metabolism and inflammation in a diet-induced obesity model in young and old mice. We identified age related sex differences in adipose tissue macrophages (ATMs), fibrosis and lipid metabolism in male and female visceral fat depot (GWAT). Although aging normalized body weights between the sexes, females remained protected from proinflammatory ATMs and stimulated lipolysis failed to adversely affect the inflammatory state even with obesity. Older obese males had augmented CD11c+ ATMs and higher insulin levels, while females showed increased visceral adiposity and exaggerated Pparγ, and Pgc1α expression. Obesity in aging demonstrated similar expression of GWAT p53, p16, p21, Timp1 and Tgfβ1 in both sexes. Our studies suggest that even with aging, female GWAT shows an attenuated inflammatory response compared to males due to an efficient oxidative metabolism combined with an active tissue remodeling state.

    Research areas

  • adipose tissue macrophages, aging, extracellular matrix remodeling, senescence, sex differences

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