Differences in Visceral Fat and Fat Bacterial Colonization between Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn's Disease. An In Vivo and In Vitro Study

Alessandra Zulian, Raffaella Cancello, Chiara Ruocco, Davide Gentilini, Anna Maria Di Blasio, Piergiorgio Danelli, Giancarlo Micheletto, Elisabetta Cesana, Cecilia Invitti

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Crohn's disease (CD) is notably characterized by the expansion of visceral fat with small adipocytes expressing a high proportion of anti-inflammatory genes. Conversely, visceral fat depots in ulcerative colitis (UC) patients have never been characterized. Our study aims were a) to compare adipocyte morphology and gene expression profile and bacterial translocation in omental (OM) and mesenteric (MES) adipose tissue of patients with UC and CD, and b) to investigate the effect of bacterial infection on adipocyte proliferation in vitro. Specimens of OM and MES were collected from 11 UC and 11 CD patients, processed and examined by light microscopy. Gene expression profiles were evaluated in adipocytes isolated from visceral adipose tissue using microarray and RTqPCR validations. Bacteria within adipose tissue were immuno-detected by confocal scanning laser microscopy. Adipocytes were incubated with Enterococcus faecalis and cells counted after 24h. Morphology and molecular profile of OM and MES revealed that UC adipose tissue is less inflamed than CD adipose tissue. Genes linked to inflammation, bacterial response, chemotaxis and angiogenesis were down-regulated in adipocytes from UC compared to CD, whereas genes related to metallothioneins, apoptosis pathways and growth factor binding were up-regulated. A dense perinuclear positivity for Enterococcus faecalis was detected in visceral adipocytes from CD, whereas positivity was weak in UC. In vitro bacterial infection was associated with a five-fold increase in the proliferation rate of OM preadipocytes. Compared to UC, visceral adipose tissue from CD is more inflamed and more colonized by intestinal bacteria, which increase adipocyte proliferation. The influence of bacteria stored within adipocytes on the clinical course of IBD warrants further investigations.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere78495
JournalPLoS One
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 24 2013


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

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