Aims/hypothesis: Enlarged fat cells from obese subjects are characterised by insulin resistance and abnormal adrenergic regulation of lipolysis. The aim of the present study was to examine whether these aberrations return to normal following weight reduction.
Materials and methods: Obese women (n=25) were investigated before and 3+/-1 years (mean+/-SD) after steady-state weight reduction and compared with control women who were matched to the cases at re-examination in terms of age and BMI. Adipocyte volume, lipogenesis and lipolysis were determined in isolated subcutaneous fat cells following stimulation or inhibition at different steps of the lipolytic cascade.
Results: Weight reduction decreased fat cell volume and basal and adrenergic-regulated lipolysis rates to values that were 20-40% lower than those in control women (p=0.0002-0.03), despite the fact that percentage body fat was almost identical in the two groups of women. Fat cell volume was directly proportional to lipolysis in obese subjects, both before and after weight reduction, and in control subjects. Insulin-induced antilipolysis and lipogenesis were completely normalised after weight reduction.
Conclusions/interpretation: Body-weight-reduced obese women had low basal and catecholamine-stimulated adipocyte lipolysis, presumably due to adipose tissue hyperplasia. This could make an important contribution to body weight gain following weight loss. Adipocyte insulin resistance is secondary to obesity.