Adipocyte Biology, Insulin Resistance and Cardiovascular Disease

Project Details

Academic site: Medicine, St Vincent's Hospital, Eastern Hill Campus

This project is in the field of metabolism focused on the interaction of obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD). There is extensive animal and epidemiological evidence to support links between obesity and CVD, however there is relatively limited data about the exact nature of this relationship particularly related to the specific role of the adipocyte. One area that is not well understood is adipocyte function in vivo and how it relates to measures of whole body insulin sensitivity, particularly in those with CVD. There is also hypothesized to be a difference in adipocyte biology between central and peripheral adipocytes although this has not been well shown in humans. Thus, we aim to measure whole body insulin sensitivity in patients with CVD and to relate these findings to adipocyte function in human subjects.

Hypotheses: That whole body insulin sensitivity will relate to adipocyte structure and AMP-activated protein kinase expression in patients with CVD. That central and peripheral adipocytes will have distinct phenotypes in patients with and without IR. That vascular function in vessels from insulin resistant animals and humans will be abnormal. 

The aims are to compare insulin sensitivity in patients with CVD and markers of adipocyte structure and function in adipose tissue from a range of sites including central and peripheral fat as well as muscle, a key site of insulin and glucose metabolism and to assess vascular function in vitro in tissues from insulin resistant animals and humans. Techniques: Immunohistochemistry, molecular biology, vascular benchtop assessments (myography).


  • Dr Amy Wilson-O'Brien, postdoctoral fellow
  • Mr John Garlick, research assistant


  • St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research
  • Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Melbourne
  • St Vincent's Health Melbourne
  • Australia Catholic University
  • Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
  • Sanson Institute
  • RMIT University
  • University of California San Francisco
  • Stanford University
  • Biogrid Australia, Data Linkage

Research Publications

  1. LAYLAND, J. J., WHITBOURN, R. J., BURNS, A. T., SOMARATNE, J., LEITL, G., MACISAAC, A. I., & WILSON, A. M. 2012. The index of microvascular resistance identifies patients with periprocedural myocardial infarction in elective percutaneous coronary intervention. Heart, 98, 1492-7.
  2. HOFFERBERTH, S. C., NEWCOMB, A. E., RYAN, M. C., YII, M. Y., NIXON, I. K., ROSALION, A., BOSTON, R. C., WARD, G. M., & WILSON, A. M. 2012. High incidence of insulin resistance and dysglycaemia amongst nondiabetic cardiac surgical patients. AnnThorac Surg, 94, 117 - 22.
  3. COOKE, J. P. & WILSON, A. M. 2010. Biomarkers of peripheral arterial disease. 2010. J Am Coll Cardiol, 55, 2017 - 23.
  4. WILSON, A. M., HARADA, R., NAIR, N., BALASUBRAMANIAN, N. M., & COOKE, J. P. 2007. L-arginine supplementation in peripheral arterial disease: no benefit and possible harm. Circulation, 116, 188-95.
  5. WILSON, A. M., KIMURA, E., HARADA, R. K., et al. 2007. Beta2-microglobulin as a biomarker in peripheral arterial disease: proteomic profiling and clinical studies. Circulation, 116, 1396 - 403.

Research Group

Translational Cardiovascular Biology

School Research Themes


Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre

Medicine and Radiology

MDHS Research library
Explore by researcher, school, project or topic.