Horm Metab Res 2005; 37(2): 68-73
DOI: 10.1055/s-2005-861156
Original Basic
© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Blood Flow in Subcutaneous Adipose Tissue Depends on Skin-fold Thickness

F.  Adams1, 2 , J.  Jordan1 , K.  Schaller2 , F.  C.  Luft1 , M.  Boschmann1, 2
  • 1Franz Volhard Clinic, Clinical Research Center and HELIOS Klinikum Berlin, Charité Campus Buch, Universitary Medicine Berlin, Germany
  • 2German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke, Nuthetal, Germany
Further Information

Publication History

Received 20 April 2004

Accepted after revision 14 October 2004

Publication Date:
21 March 2005 (online)


Blood flow in subcutaneous adipose tissue is reduced in obese compared to lean subjects. Limitations in vascular supply might interfere with adipose tissue function as a metabolic and endocrine organ. We tested the hypothesis that nutritive blood flow and tissue metabolism depends on subcutaneous adipose tissue thickness even in normal-weight subjects. Sixteen young, healthy, normal-weight subjects (8 men, 8 women) were included in the study. Abdominal subcutaneous adipose thickness was assessed by skin-fold measurements. The microdialysis technique was applied for monitoring basal adipose tissue blood flow (ethanol dilution technique) and metabolism. An increase in skin-fold thickness from 15 to 45 mm and from 8 to 37 mm was associated with a linear increase in basal ethanol ratio from 0.19 to 0.63 and 0.25 to 0.75 and linear decreases in dialysate glucose concentrations from 1.95 to 0.24 mM and 1.68 to 0.29 mM, and 152 to 42 μM and 172 to 49 μM for glycerol concentrations in men and women, respectively (p < 0.05). Isoproterenol-stimulated blood flow also inversely correlated to skin-fold thickness (p < 0.05). We conclude that increased adipose tissue thickness is associated with reduced tissue perfusion and metabolism, even in lean subjects. Skin-fold thickness is an important confounding variable in metabolic studies, particularly in microdialysis experiments.


F. Adams

Franz-Volhard-Clinic, CRC, Charité Campus Buch, Universitary Medicine Berlin

Wiltbergstr. 50, Hs. 129 · 13125 Berlin · Germany

Phone: +49(30)9417-2267

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Email: adams@fvk.charite-buch.de