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Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2004 Dec;28 Suppl 4:S3-S11.

Concept of fat balance in human obesity revisited with particular reference to de novo lipogenesis.

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Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine and Biology, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland.


The measurement of fat balance (fat input minus fat output) involves the accurate estimation of both metabolizable fat intake and total fat oxidation. This is possible mostly under laboratory conditions and not yet in free-living conditions. In the latter situation, net fat retention/mobilization can be estimated based on precise and accurate sequential body composition measurements. In case of positive balance, lipids stored in adipose tissue can originate from dietary (exogenous) lipids or from nonlipid precursors, mainly from carbohydrates (CHOs) but also from ethanol, through a process known as de novo lipogenesis (DNL). Basic equations are provided in this review to facilitate the interpretation of the different subcomponents of fat balance (endogenous vs exogenous) under different nutritional circumstances. One difficulty is methodological: total DNL is difficult to measure quantitatively in man; for example, indirect calorimetry only tracks net DNL, not total DNL. Although the numerous factors (mostly exogenous) influencing DNL have been studied, in particular the effect of CHO overfeeding, there is little information on the rate of DNL in habitual conditions of life, that is, large day-to-day fluctuations of CHO intakes, different types of CHO ingested with different glycemic indexes, alcohol combined with excess CHO intakes, etc. Three issues, which are still controversial today, will be addressed: (1) Is the increase of fat mass induced by CHO overfeeding explained by DNL only, or by decreased endogenous fat oxidation, or both? (2) Is DNL different in overweight and obese individuals as compared to their lean counterparts? (3) Does DNL occur both in the liver and in adipose tissue? Recent studies have demonstrated that acute CHO overfeeding influences adipose tissue lipogenic gene expression and that CHO may stimulate DNL in skeletal muscles, at least in vitro. The role of DNL and its importance in health and disease remain to be further clarified, in particular the putative effect of DNL on the control of energy intake and energy expenditure, as well as the occurrence of DNL in other tissues (such as in myocytes) in addition to hepatocytes and adipocytes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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