Effect of weight loss on cytokine messenger RNA expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of obese subjects with the metabolic syndrome

Metabolism. 2008 Feb;57(2):192-9. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2007.08.024.


Inflammation is associated with obesity, the metabolic syndrome, and diabetes. No data are available on the effect of weight reduction on the gene expression of cytokines in immune cells in obesity and the metabolic syndrome. We assessed how long-term weight loss affects expression of cytokines in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) in individuals with impaired glucose metabolism and the metabolic syndrome. Data from 34 subjects randomized to either a weight reduction or a control group for a 33-week period were analyzed. The messenger RNA (mRNA) expression of interleukins (ILs) in PBMCs was measured using real-time polymerase chain reaction. Measures of insulin and glucose metabolism (intravenous and oral glucose tolerance tests), body composition, and circulating adipokines and inflammatory markers were also assessed. Weight reduction resulted in a decrease in the mRNA expression of IL-1beta (IL1B), IL-1 receptor antagonist, and tumor necrosis factor alpha (P < .001) and an increase in expression of IL-6 (IL6) and IL-8 (P < .01). The increase in IL6 expression was associated with a decrease in fasting glycemia (r = -0.53, P < .01). Interestingly, the decrease in IL1B expression was correlated with an increase in insulin sensitivity index (r = -0.68, P < .01). In general, a decrease in circulating levels of adipokines and inflammatory markers was also observed after weight loss. Weight loss altered gene expression of cytokines related to inflammation and the immune response in PBMCs. Changes in IL6 mRNA expression were associated with changes in fasting glycemia. The decrease in IL-1 receptor antagonist expression after weight loss and the strong correlation between the decrease in IL1B expression and the increase in insulin sensitivity suggest a contribution of these genes to insulin-resistant states found in obesity and the metabolic syndrome.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Body Composition
  • Diet, Reducing
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein / genetics
  • Interleukins / biosynthesis
  • Interleukins / genetics*
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / blood*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / genetics
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / blood*
  • Obesity / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / biosynthesis
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / genetics
  • Weight Loss / physiology*


  • Blood Glucose
  • IL1RN protein, human
  • Insulin
  • Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein
  • Interleukins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha