Adipose and liver expression of interleukin (IL)-1 family members in morbid obesity and effects of weight loss

Mol Med. 2011;17(7-8):840-5. doi: 10.2119/molmed.2010.00108. Epub 2011 Mar 2.


Morbid obesity is associated with a state of chronic inflammation. Interleukin-1 family (IL-1F) cytokine members are produced by human adipose tissue in obesity. Whereas certain IL-1F members such as IL-1β or IL-18 are potently proinflammatory, others such as IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra) or IL-37 (formerly IL-1F7) are antiinflammatory. The NLRP3 inflammasome plays a key role in the processing of bioactive IL-1β and IL-18. We investigated the effect of excessive weight loss on subcutaneous adipose tissue and liver expression of IL-1α, IL-1β, IL-18, IL-1Ra, IL-37 and NLRP3. Twenty-one severely obese patients undergoing laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding were studied. Tissue samples were collected before and 6 months after laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding surgery. mRNA expression of all studied IL-1F members, but especially of IL-37, was much higher in subcutaneous/visceral adipose tissue compared with their liver expression. Subcutaneous adipose tissue mRNA expression of IL-1β decreased significantly after extensive weight loss; expression of IL-18 and IL-1Ra did not change, whereas IL-37 expression increased. Weight loss led to a significant reduction in liver IL-1β, IL-18 and IL-1Ra expression, whereas hepatic IL-37 mRNA expression remained stable. Adipose/liver NLRP3 inflammasome and IL-1α expression were not affected by weight loss. Tissue expression of IL-1β, IL-18 and IL-37 were significantly higher in subcutaneous/visceral adipose tissue compared with the liver. In conclusion, expression of IL-1F members is more pronounced in adipose compared with liver tissue in patients with severe obesity. Excessive weight loss changes the adipose and liver expression profile of IL-1F members toward a more antiinflammatory direction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Female
  • Gastroplasty / methods
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Humans
  • Inflammasomes / genetics
  • Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein / genetics
  • Interleukin-1 / genetics*
  • Interleukin-18 / genetics
  • Interleukin-1alpha / genetics
  • Interleukin-1beta / genetics
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • NLR Family, Pyrin Domain-Containing 3 Protein
  • Obesity, Morbid / genetics*
  • Obesity, Morbid / surgery
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Time Factors
  • Weight Loss*
  • Young Adult


  • Carrier Proteins
  • IL37 protein, human
  • Inflammasomes
  • Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein
  • Interleukin-1
  • Interleukin-18
  • Interleukin-1alpha
  • Interleukin-1beta
  • NLR Family, Pyrin Domain-Containing 3 Protein
  • NLRP3 protein, human