Background: Hepatic de novo lipogenesis (DNL) is markedly stimulated in humans by low-fat diets enriched in simple sugars. However, the dietary responsiveness of the key enzyme controlling DNL in human adipose tissue, fatty acid synthase (FAS), is uncertain.
Hypothesis: Adipose tissue mRNA for FAS is increased in lean and obese subjects when hepatic DNL is elevated by a eucaloric, low-fat, high-sugar diet.
Design: Twelve lean and seven obese volunteers were given two eucaloric diets (10% vs. 30% fat; 75% vs. 55% carbohydrate; sugar/starch 60/40) each for 2 weeks by a random-order cross-over design. FAS mRNA in abdominal and gluteal adipose tissues was compared to hepatic DNL measured in serum by isotopic and nonisotopic methods. Adipose tissue mRNA for tumor necrosis factor-alpha and IL-6, which are inflammatory cytokines that modulate DNL, was also assayed.
Results: The low-fat high-sugar diet induced a 4-fold increase in maximum hepatic DNL (P<.001) but only a 1.3-fold increase in adipose tissue FAS mRNA (P=.029) and no change in cytokine mRNA. There was a borderline significant positive correlation between changes in FAS mRNA and hepatic DNL (P=.039). Compared to lean subjects, obese subjects had lower levels of FAS mRNA and higher levels of cytokine mRNA (P<.001).
Conclusions: The results suggest that key elements of human adipose tissue DNL are less responsive to dietary carbohydrate than is hepatic DNL and may be regulated by diet-independent factors. Irrespective of diet, there is reduced expression of the FAS gene and increased expression of cytokine genes in adipose tissues of obese subjects.