Influence of heredity for obesity on adipocyte lipolysis in lean and obese subjects

Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2000 Mar;24(3):340-4. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0801134.


Objective: To evaluate a possible influence of a hereditary trait for obesity on the regulation of adipocyte metabolism in vitro in subcutaneous fat cells in obese and non-obese subjects.

Design: A biopsy from abdominal subcutaneous fat was obtained from consecutive subjects with or without a family trait for obesity. A positive family history of obesity was considered present if one or more of the first degree relatives had a BMI of 27 kg/m2 or more.

Subjects: 67 non-obese and 60 obese subjects, age 19-60 y. A family trait for overweight was present in 42 of the lean subjects and in 50 of the obese subjects.

Measurements: Fat cells were isolated and incubated in vitro with isoprenaline (a non-selective beta-adrenoceptor agonist), forskolin (activates the adenylyl cyclase) and dibutyryl cyclic AMP (stimulates the protein kinase hormone-sensitive lipase complex). Glycerol release was measured and used as lipolytic index.

Results: Maximal lipolytic response per g triglycerides was about 50% lower in obese subjects both with and without a positive heredity and in non-obese subjects with a family trait for obesity as compared to non-obese subjects without such trait (P=0.0001). Fat cell volume was twice as high in obese as compared to lean subjects. Drug-induced maximal glycerol release per fat cell in the obese subjects, regardless of family history of obesity, reached a similar level, but did not exceed that of the lean group without heredity.

Conclusions: Obesity is associated with catecholamine resistance with a relatively ineffective lipolysis in fat cells, and presence of a family history of obesity was not associated with a further suppression of lipolysis. In the lean subjects, heredity for obesity significantly influenced lipolysis to similar low levels as in the obese subjects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / metabolism*
  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Mass Index
  • Bucladesine / pharmacology
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Colforsin / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Glycerol / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Isoproterenol / pharmacology
  • Lipolysis* / drug effects
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / genetics*
  • Obesity / metabolism


  • Blood Glucose
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Insulin
  • Colforsin
  • Bucladesine
  • Isoproterenol
  • Glycerol