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Association of estrogen with glucocorticoid levels in visceral fat in postmenopausal women

Yamatani, Hizuru MD; Takahashi, Kazuhiro MD, PhD; Yoshida, Takayuki MD, PhD; Takata, Keiko MD, PhD; Kurachi, Hirohisa MD, PhD

doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e318271a640
Original Articles

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 (r 2 = 0.69, P < 0.05) between the E1/E2 ratio of visceral fat and body mass index in postmenopausal women. A significant correlation (r 2 = 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.

From the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Yamagata University School of Medicine, Yamagata, Japan.

Received June 1, 2012; revised and accepted August 29, 2012.

Funding/support: This work was supported in part by Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (22390308 to H.K. and 23592433 to K.T.) from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology of Japan and in part by Grants-in-Aid for the Global Center of Excellence Program from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.

Financial disclosure/conflicts of interest: None reported.

Address correspondence to: Kazuhiro Takahashi, MD, PhD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Yamagata University School of Medicine, 2-2-2 Iidanishi, Yamagata 990-9585, Japan. E-mail:

© 2013 by The North American Menopause Society.