An energy restriction-based weight loss intervention is able to reverse the effects of obesity on the expression of liver tumor-promoting genes

FASEB J. 2020 Feb;34(2):2312-2325. doi: 10.1096/fj.201901147RR. Epub 2019 Dec 16.


The epidemiological evidence regarding the association of obesity with liver disease and possibly hepatocellular carcinoma highlights the need for investigations of whether obesity itself could induce the differential expression of genes commonly associated with the initial phase of liver tumorigenesis, and whether such phenomenon could be reversed after a weight loss intervention. In this study, obese Zucker rats were found to have dysregulated cell proliferation, antioxidative defenses, and tumor suppressor gene expression in association with liver dysfunction parameters, as well as oxidative stress and inflammation. Importantly, after a 4-week weight loss protocol of energy restriction and/or exercise, this effect on the liver carcinogenesis-related genes was reversed concomitantly with reductions in the fat mass, hepatic lipid content, oxidative stress, and inflammation. The findings indicate that the oxidative stress and inflammation associated with excess adiposity promote dysregulation of the genes involved in liver tumorigenesis. This is clinically relevant because these effects were detectable in the liver without evidence of a tumoral mass and were reversed after weight loss. Consequently, this study reveals the susceptibility of obese individuals to the initiation of a hepatocarcinogenic process, and how this can be prevented by achieving a healthy body weight.

Keywords: NAFLD; NASH; adipose tissue dysfunction; carcinogenesis; inflammation; oxidative stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caloric Restriction*
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Liver / pathology
  • Male
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Obesity / pathology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Zucker
  • Weight Loss*


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins