Objective: The aim of this study is to clarify the association between estrogen and glucocorticoid levels in adipose tissues of premenopausal and postmenopausal women.
Methods: Forty (15 premenopausal and 25 postmenopausal) women aged 22 to 79 years were recruited through elective gynecological surgical operation, and both subcutaneous and visceral fat were collected during the surgical operation. Messenger RNA (mRNA) expressions of 11β hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (HSD1), which catalyzes cortisone to cortisol, and 17β-HSD1 and 17β hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 (HSD2), which catalyze the interconversion of estrone (E1) and estradiol (E2), were measured by real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction. The levels of E1, E2, cortisol, and cortisone in adipose tissues were measured by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry.
Results: The visceral fat area was significantly increased (P < 0.01) in postmenopausal women compared with that in premenopausal women. The cortisol/cortisone ratio (P < 0.01) and the expression of 11β-HSD1 mRNA (P < 0.001) in visceral fat, but not in subcutaneous fat, in postmenopausal women were significantly higher than those in premenopausal women. There was a significant correlation (r2 = 0.69, P < 0.05) between the E1/E2 ratio of visceral fat and body mass index in postmenopausal women. A significant correlation (r2 = 0.54, P < 0.05) between the cortisol/cortisone ratio and the E1/E2 ratio of visceral fat was observed in postmenopausal women.
Conclusions: The expression of 11β-HSD1 mRNA in visceral fat increases in postmenopausal women, and the E1/E2 ratio in visceral fat may be associated with local glucocorticoid levels after menopause.