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Adipocyte. 2014 Dec 10;3(4):242-55. doi: 10.4161/adip.28546. eCollection 2014 Oct-Dec.

Intermuscular and intramuscular adipose tissues: Bad vs. good adipose tissues.

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Department of Animal and Dairy Science; University of Georgia ; Athens, GA USA.
Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutritional Science; University of Alberta ; Edmonton, AB Canada.
Department of Animal Sciences; Washington State University ; Pullman, WA USA.
Abitec Corporation ; Columbus, OH USA.


Human studies of the influence of aging and other factors on intermuscular fat (INTMF) were reviewed. Intermuscular fat increased with weight loss, weight gain, or with no weight change with age in humans. An increase in INTMF represents a similar threat to type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance as does visceral adipose tissue (VAT). Studies of INTMF in animals covered topics such as quantitative deposition and genetic relationships with other fat depots. The relationship between leanness and higher proportions of INTMF fat in pigs was not observed in human studies and was not corroborated by other pig studies. In humans, changes in muscle mass, strength and quality are associated with INTMF accretion with aging. Gene expression profiling and intrinsic methylation differences in pigs demonstrated that INTMF and VAT are primarily associated with inflammatory and immune processes. It seems that in the pig and humans, INTMF and VAT share a similar pattern of distribution and a similar association of components dictating insulin sensitivity. Studies on intramuscular (IM) adipocyte development in meat animals were reviewed. Gene expression analysis and genetic analysis have identified candidate genes involved in IM adipocyte development. Intramuscular (IM) adipocyte development in human muscle is only seen during aging and some pathological circumstance. Several genetic links between human and meat animal adipogenesis have been identified. In pigs, the Lipin1 and Lipin 2 gene have strong genetic effects on IM accumulation. Lipin1 deficiency results in immature adipocyte development in human lipodystrophy. In humans, overexpression of Perilipin 2 (PLIN2) facilitates intramyocellular lipid accretion whereas in pigs PLIN2 gene expression is associated with IM deposition. Lipins and perilipins may influence intramuscular lipid regardless of species.


adipocytes; adipose depot physiology; development; genetic markers; growth; intermuscular adipose tissue; intramuscular adipose tissue; metabolism; regulation

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