Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Adipocyte hypertrophy and hyperplasia have been shown to be associated with shorter telomere length, which may reflect aging, altered cell proliferation and adipose tissue (AT) dysfunction. In individuals with obesity, differences in fat distribution and AT cellular composition may contribute to obesity related metabolic diseases. Here, we tested the hypotheses that telomere lengths (TL) are different between: (1) abdominal subcutaneous and omental fat depots, (2) superficial and deep abdominal subcutaneous AT (SAT), and (3) adipocytes and cells of the stromal vascular fraction (SVF). We further asked whether AT TL is related to age, anthropometric and metabolic traits. TL was analyzed by quantitative PCR in total human genomic DNA isolated from paired subcutaneous and visceral AT of 47 lean and 50 obese individuals. In subgroups, we analyzed TL in isolated small and large adipocytes and SVF cells. We find significantly shorter TL in subcutaneous compared to visceral AT (P < 0.001) which is consistent in men and subgroups of lean and obese, and individuals with or without type 2 diabetes (T2D). Shorter TL in SAT is entirely due to shorter TL in the SVF compared to visceral AT (P < 0.01). SAT TL is most strongly correlated with age (r = -0.205, P < 0.05) and independently of age with HbA1c (r = -0.5, P < 0.05). We found significant TL differences between superficial SAT of lean and obese as well as between individuals with our without T2D, but not between the two layers of SAT. Our data indicate that fat depot differences in TL mainly reflect shorter TL of SVF cells. In addition, we found an age and BMI-independent relationship between shorter TL and HbA1c suggesting that chronic hyperglycemia may impair the regenerative capacity of AT more strongly than obesity alone.