Vera Mazurak, Professor, Human Nutrition and Metabolism

Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Sciences
University of Alberta

Sex Differences in Adipose Tissue: Implications in Health and Metabolic Disease

Beyond just storing fat, adipose tissue contributes to whole body metabolism in the human body. With overnutrition, adipose tissue can expand to 40% or more of total body mass. As adipose tissue expands, so too does the risk of metabolic disease including diabetes and cancer. Adipose tissue accumulates in different regions of the body in biological males and females. Males tends to store more fat in the upper body and females tend to store more fat in the lower body. However, not only is regional fat storage different between sexes, the characteristics of adipose tissue in different regions of the body is also different. Evidence indicates that the sex difference in adipose tissue storage and characteristics affects metabolic disease risk. In this session, we will discuss the sex differences in adipose tissue characteristics that are implicated in health and the development of metabolic disease risk in humans. Learning Objectives: At the end of this session participants will be able to: 1. Describe at least 2 characteristics of adipose tissue that contributes to sex differences in obesity and diabetes. 2. Describe 2 characteristics of adipose tissue that contributes to sex differences in cancer. 3. Understand how physiology and behaviour of adipose tissue differs between biological males and females. 4. Discuss how adipose tissue characteristics increase metabolic disease risk in biological males and females.

Speaker/Chair Bio:

Dr. Mazurak has a passion for defining better nutritional interventions for those at risk of malnutrition Her research focuses on alterations in metabolism that occur in disease states and how these changes in metabolism impact nutritional requirements in diseases characterized by inflammation with a primary focus emphasis on essential fatty acids. She has ongoing clinical studies in cancer and its treatment, cirrhosis and other liver diseases and osteoarthritis. She is particularly interested in how providing essential dietary nutrients can treat pathology related to disease and improve care for patients. Her translational research program spans from experimental models of disease (cell culture and animal models) to conducting human clinical trials. In this context, important differences in disease risk and management have emerged that must be understood to provide individualized care for patients. Her experience in teaching human nutrition at the University of Alberta spans nearly 25 years. She supervises undergraduate, graduate students and postdoctoral fellow research programs in Nutrition as well as the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry. Dr. Mazurak has been a member of CNS since she was a graduate student and served as the local organizing chair for the inaugural meeting of CNS in Edmonton in 2010. She has held roles on the Board of Directors, and serves on various committees, including current chair of the Education committee for CNS.