Basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) stimulates the replication of preadipocytes and inhibits their differentiation. In this study we explored whether the same or related polypeptides were produced locally and acted by paracrine/autocrine mechanisms in adipose tissue. Omental preadipocytes from 7 lean and 10 massively obese (> 170% reference) subjects were grown to confluence in subculture. Total RNA was hybridized with a synthetic deoxynucleotide for human bFGF. In the case of all cell strains, there was expression of two major bFGF transcripts, 7.0 and 3.7 kb. Although there was considerable variation in the degree of expression, preadipocytes from massively obese subjects revealed much greater expression than did cells from the lean (P < 0.001). In studies of conditioned media prepared with preadipocytes, the presence of proteins belonging to the heparin-binding (fibroblast) growth factor family was indicated by Western blot analysis, for a 66-kD protein with anti-(1-24)bFGF, and for a 32-kD protein with anti-(40-63)bFGF antibodies. The relative quantity of the 66-kD protein correlated with body mass index at r = 0.72. bFGF-related proteins probably function normally to maintain an appropriate complement of adipocyte precursors. The augmented expression of heparin-binding growth factors in preadipocytes from some massively obese people probably contributes to the excessive cellularity of their fat depots.
K Teichert-Kuliszewska, B S Hamilton, M Deitel, D A Roncari