Aims/hypothesis: We investigated whether skeletal muscle peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator-1 (PGC1A; also known as PPARGC1A) and its target mitofusin-2 (MFN2), as well as carnitine palmitoyltransferase-1 (CPT1; also known as carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1A [liver] [CPT1A]) and uncoupling protein (UCP)3, are involved in the improvement of insulin resistance and/or in the modification of energy expenditure during surgically induced massive weight loss.
Materials and methods: Seventeen morbidly obese women (mean BMI: 45.9 +/- 4 kg/m(2)) were investigated before, and 3 and 12 months after, Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB). We evaluated insulin sensitivity by the euglycaemic-hyperinsulinaemic clamp, energy expenditure and substrate oxidation by indirect calorimetry, and muscle mRNA expression by PCR.
Results: Post-operatively, PGC1A was enhanced at 3 (p = 0.02) and 12 months (p = 0.03) as was MFN2 (p = 0.008 and p = 0.03 at 3 and 12 months respectively), whereas UCP3 was reduced (p = 0.03) at 12 months. CPT1 did not change. The expression of PGC1A and MFN2 were strongly (p < 0.0001) related. Insulin sensitivity, which increased after surgery (p = 0.002 at 3, p = 0.003 at 12 months), was significantly related to PGC1A and MFN2, but only MFN2 showed an independent influence in a multiple regression analysis. Energy expenditure was reduced at 3 months post-operatively (p = 0.001 vs before RYGB), remaining unchanged thereafter until 12 months. CPT1 and UCP3 were not significantly related to the modifications of energy expenditure or of lipid oxidation rate.
Conclusions/interpretation: Weight loss upregulates PGC1A, which in turn stimulates MFN2 expression. MFN2 expression significantly and independently contributes to the improvement of insulin sensitivity. UCP3 and CPT1 do not seem to influence energy expenditure after RYGB.