Decreased expression and function of adipocyte hormone-sensitive lipase in subcutaneous fat cells of obese subjects

J Lipid Res. 1999 Nov;40(11):2059-66.


Decreased lipolytic effect of catecholamines in adipose tissue has repeatedly been demonstrated in obesity and may be a cause of excess accumulation of body fat. However, the mechanisms behind this lipolysis defect are unclear. The role of hormone-sensitive lipase was examined using abdominal subcutaneous adipocytes from 34 obese drug-free and otherwise healthy males or females and 14 non-obese control subjects. The enzyme catalyzes the rate-limiting step of the lipolysis pathway. The maximum lipolytic capacity of fat cells was significantly decreased in obesity when measured using either a non-selective beta-adrenergic receptor agonist (isoprenaline) or a phosphodiesterase resistant cyclic AMP analogue (dibutyryl cyclic AMP). Likewise, enzyme activity, protein expression, and mRNA of hormone-sensitive lipase were significantly decreased in adipocytes of obese subjects. The findings were not influenced by age or gender. The data suggest that a decreased expression of hormone-sensitive lipase in subcutaneous fat cells, which in turn causes decreased enzyme function and impaired lipolytic capacity of adipocytes, is present in obesity. Impaired expression of the hormone-sensitive lipase gene might at least in part explain the enzyme defect.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / chemistry
  • Adipose Tissue / cytology
  • Adipose Tissue / enzymology*
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weights and Measures
  • Cell Size
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Glycerol / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Lipolysis / genetics
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation
  • Obesity / enzymology*
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Sex Factors
  • Sterol Esterase / analysis
  • Sterol Esterase / genetics*


  • Insulin
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Sterol Esterase
  • Glycerol