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J Lipid Res. 2010 Aug;51(8):2394-404. doi: 10.1194/jlr.P005298. Epub 2010 Mar 23.

Distinct skeletal muscle fiber characteristics and gene expression in diet-sensitive versus diet-resistant obesity.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, 451 Smyth Rd, Ottawa, ON, Canada.


Inter-individual variability in weight gain and loss under energy surfeit and deficit conditions, respectively, are well recognized but poorly understood phenomena. We documented weight loss variability in an intensively supervised clinical weight loss program and assessed skeletal muscle gene expression and phenotypic characteristics related to variable response to a 900 kcal regimen. Matched pairs of healthy, diet-compliant, obese diet-sensitive (ODS) and diet-resistant (ODR) subjects were defined as those in the highest and lowest quintiles for weight loss rate. Physical activity energy expenditure was minimal and comparable. Following program completion and weight stabilization, skeletal muscle biopsies were obtained. Gene expression analysis of rectus femoris and vastus lateralis indicated upregulation of genes and gene sets involved in oxidative phosphorylation and glucose and fatty acid metabolism in ODS compared with ODR. In vastus lateralis, there was a higher proportion of oxidative (type I) fibers in ODS compared with ODR women and lean controls, fiber hypertrophy in ODS compared with ODR women and lean controls, and lower succinate dehydrogenase in oxidative and oxidative-glycolytic fibers in all obese compared with lean subjects. Intramuscular lipid content was generally higher in obese versus lean, and specifically higher in ODS vs. lean women. Altogether, our findings demonstrate differences in muscle gene expression and fiber composition related to clinical weight loss success.

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