Stearoyl-CoA desaturase and its relation to high-carbohydrate diets and obesity

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2009 Feb;1791(2):85-91. doi: 10.1016/j.bbalip.2008.12.011. Epub 2009 Jan 2.


Obesity is currently a worldwide epidemic and public health burden that increases the risk for developing insulin resistance and several chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The multifactorial causes of obesity include several genetic, dietary and lifestyle variables that together result in an imbalance between energy intake and energy expenditure. Dietary approaches to limit fat intake are commonly prescribed to achieve the hypocaloric conditions necessary for weight loss. But dietary fat restriction is often accompanied by increased carbohydrate intake, which can dramatically increase endogenous fatty acid synthesis depending upon carbohydrate composition. Since both dietary and endogenously synthesized fatty acids contribute to the whole-body fatty acid pool, obesity can therefore result from excessive fat or carbohydrate consumption. Stearoyl-Coenzyme A desaturase-1 (SCD1) is a delta-9 fatty acid desaturase that converts saturated fatty acids into monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and this activity is elevated by dietary carbohydrate. Mice lacking Scd1 are protected from obesity and insulin resistance and are characterized by decreased fatty acid synthesis and increased fatty acid oxidation. In this review, we address the association of high-carbohydrate diets with increased SCD activity and summarize the current literature on the subject of SCD1 and body weight regulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Obesity / enzymology*
  • Stearoyl-CoA Desaturase / physiology*


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Stearoyl-CoA Desaturase