Human subcutaneous adipose tissue shows site-specific differences in fatty acid composition

Stephen D. Phinney, Judith S. Stern, Karen E. Burke, Anna B. Tang, Gary Miller, Ralph T. Holman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Adipose tissue was obtained from six women undergoing liposuction twice at 6-mo intervals. Samples obtained bilaterally from abdomen, inner thigh, and outer thigh had fatty acids quantified by gas chromatography. There were no important differences between sides or over time. The saturates 14:0, 16:0, 18:0, and 20:0 were higher in abdominal adipose than in outer thigh (P < 0.002 for all); 16:1 and 18:1ω9 were lower in abdomen vs outer thigh (P < 0.01), whereas 18:1ω7 and 20:1ω9 were unchanged. Polyunsaturates 18:2ω6, 20:3ω6, and 20:4ω6 were higher in outer thigh than in abdomen (P < 0.06), and inner thigh values were intermediate. These changes in fatty acid composition resulted in lower mean triglyceride melting points from abdomen to inner thigh to outer thigh, and suggest that temperature may influence the selection process determining the variation in adipose fatty acid composition with anatomical location. Because the site-specific differences included essential fatty acids, selective uptake as well as potential differences in in situ fatty acid modification are indicated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)725-729
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Food Science


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