Weight cycling promotes fat gain and altered clock gene expression in adipose tissue in C57BL/6J mice

Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2014 Jan 15;306(2):E210-24. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00188.2013. Epub 2013 Dec 3.


Repeated attempts to lose weight by temporary dieting may result in weight cycling, eventually further gain of body fat, and possible metabolic adaptation. We tested this with a controlled experiment in C57BL/6J mice subjected to four weight cycles (WC), continuous hypercaloric feeding (HF), or low-fat feeding (LF). To search for genes involved in an adaptive mechanism to former weight cycling and avoid acute effects of the last cycle, the last hypercaloric feeding period was prolonged by an additional 2 wk before euthanization. Total energy intake was identical in WC and HF. However, compared with HF, the WC mice gained significantly more total body mass and fat mass and showed increased levels of circulating leptin and lipids in liver. Both the HF and WC groups showed increased adipocyte size and insulin resistance. Despite these effects, we also observed an interesting maintenance of circulating adiponectin and free fatty acid levels after WC, whereas changes in these parameters were observed in HF mice. Global gene expression was analyzed by microarrays. Weight-cycled mice were characterized by a downregulation of several clock genes (Dbp, Tef, Per1, Per2, Per3, and Nr1d2) in adipose tissues, which was confirmed by quantitative PCR. In 3T3-L1 cells, we found reduced expression of Dbp and Tef early in adipogenic differentiation, which was mediated via cAMP-dependent signaling. Our data suggest that clock genes in adipose tissue may play a role in metabolic adaptation to weight cycling.

Keywords: adipokines; caloric restriction; clock genes; metabolism; obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3T3-L1 Cells
  • Adaptation, Physiological / drug effects
  • Adaptation, Physiological / genetics
  • Adipogenesis / genetics
  • Adipose Tissue / growth & development*
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Adiposity / physiology
  • Animals
  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • CLOCK Proteins / genetics*
  • CLOCK Proteins / metabolism
  • Caloric Restriction / adverse effects
  • Gene Expression / drug effects
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Weight Gain / drug effects*


  • CLOCK Proteins
  • Clock protein, mouse