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Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2000 Mar;24(3):340-4.

Influence of heredity for obesity on adipocyte lipolysis in lean and obese subjects.

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  • 1Karolinska Institute, Department of Medicine at Danderyd Hospital, Sweden.



To evaluate a possible influence of a hereditary trait for obesity on the regulation of adipocyte metabolism in vitro in subcutaneous fat cells in obese and non-obese subjects.


A biopsy from abdominal subcutaneous fat was obtained from consecutive subjects with or without a family trait for obesity. A positive family history of obesity was considered present if one or more of the first degree relatives had a BMI of 27 kg/m2 or more.


67 non-obese and 60 obese subjects, age 19-60 y. A family trait for overweight was present in 42 of the lean subjects and in 50 of the obese subjects.


Fat cells were isolated and incubated in vitro with isoprenaline (a non-selective beta-adrenoceptor agonist), forskolin (activates the adenylyl cyclase) and dibutyryl cyclic AMP (stimulates the protein kinase hormone-sensitive lipase complex). Glycerol release was measured and used as lipolytic index.


Maximal lipolytic response per g triglycerides was about 50% lower in obese subjects both with and without a positive heredity and in non-obese subjects with a family trait for obesity as compared to non-obese subjects without such trait (P=0.0001). Fat cell volume was twice as high in obese as compared to lean subjects. Drug-induced maximal glycerol release per fat cell in the obese subjects, regardless of family history of obesity, reached a similar level, but did not exceed that of the lean group without heredity.


Obesity is associated with catecholamine resistance with a relatively ineffective lipolysis in fat cells, and presence of a family history of obesity was not associated with a further suppression of lipolysis. In the lean subjects, heredity for obesity significantly influenced lipolysis to similar low levels as in the obese subjects.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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