Potential mechanisms by which bariatric surgery improves systemic metabolism

Transl Res. 2013 Feb;161(2):63-72. doi: 10.1016/j.trsl.2012.09.004. Epub 2012 Oct 16.


Over the past several decades, excessive body weight has become a major health concern. As the obesity epidemic continues to expand, metabolic disorders associated with excess body weight, including type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease, have exponentially increased. Dysregulation of satiety hormones and factors that regulate long-term energy storage can disrupt normal metabolic functions and lead to excess body fat. While diet and exercise seem to provide a logical means for weight loss, an unhealthy lifestyle coupled to responses initiated by perceived energy deficit impede sustained long term weight loss. Furthermore, because of the additional lack of effective pharmaceutical interventions to treat excess body weight, patients with severe obesity resort to bariatric surgery as an effective alternative for treatment of obesity and resolution of its associated comorbidities. Interestingly, the precise method by which bariatric surgery promotes rapid improvement in systemic metabolism and long-term weight loss remains incompletely understood and may vary between procedures. Multiple mechanisms likely contribute to the improved glucose metabolism seen after bariatric surgery, including caloric restriction, changes in the enteroinsular axis, alterations in the adipoinsular axis, release of nutrient-stimulated hormones from endocrine organs, stimulation from the nervous system, and psychosocial aspects including a dramatic improvement in quality of life. The current review will highlight the potential contribution of these responses to the improvement in systemic energy metabolism elicited by bariatric surgery.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bariatric Surgery / methods*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / therapy
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Obesity / surgery*
  • Weight Loss / physiology*


  • Glucose