Thrombospondin-1 is an adipokine associated with obesity, adipose inflammation, and insulin resistance

Vijayalakshmi Varma, Aiwei Yao-Borengasser, Angela M. Bodies, Neda Rasouli, Bounleut Phanavanh, Greg T. Nolen, Emily M. Kern, Radhakrishnan Nagarajan, Horace J. Spencer, Mi Jeong Lee, Susan K. Fried, Robert E. McGehee, Charlotte A. Peterson, Philip A. Kern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

151 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE-We examined the relationship between the expression of thrombospondin (TSP)1, an antiangiogenic factor and regulator of transforming growth factor-β activity, obesity, adipose inflammation, and insulin resistance. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS-TSP1 gene expression was quantified in subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) of 86 nondiabetic subjects covering a wide range of BMI and insulin sensitivity, from visceral adipose (VAT) and SAT from 14 surgical patients and from 38 subjects with impaired glucose tolerance randomized to receive either pioglitazone or metformin for 10 weeks. An adipocyte culture system was also used to assess the effects of pioglitazone and coculture with macrophages on TSP1 gene expression. RESULTS-TSP1 mRNA was significantly associated with obesity (BMI) and insulin resistance (low insulin sensitivity index). Relatively strong positive associations were seen with markers of inflammation, including CD68, macrophage chemoattractant pro-tein-1, and plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI)-1 mRNA (r ≥ 0.46, P = 0.001 for each), that remained significant after controlling for BMI and S i. However, TSP1 mRNA was preferentially expressed in adipocyte fraction, whereas inflammatory markers predominated in stromal vascular fraction. Coculture of adipocytes and macrophages augmented TSP1 gene expression and secretion from both cell types. Pioglitazone (not metformin) treatment resulted in a 54% decrease (P < 0.04) in adipose TSP gene expression, as did in vitro pioglitazone treatment of adipocytes. CONCLUSIONS-TSP1 is a true adipokine that is highly expressed in obese, insulin-resistant subjects; is highly correlated with adipose inflammation; and is decreased by pioglitazone. TSP1 is an important link between adipocytes and macrophage-driven adipose tissue inflammation and may mediate the elevation of PAI-1 that promotes a prothrombotic state.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)432-439
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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