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Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2006 Jun;290(6):R1577-88. Epub 2006 Feb 2.

Peripheral metabolic responses to prolonged weight reduction that promote rapid, efficient regain in obesity-prone rats.

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Center for Human Nutrition, Department of Medicine, University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, PO Box 6511, F-8305, Aurora, CO 80045, USA.


Weight regain after weight loss is the most significant impediment to long-term weight reduction. We have developed a rodent paradigm that models the process of regain after weight loss, and we have employed both prospective and cross-sectional analyses to characterize the compensatory adaptations to weight reduction that may contribute to the propensity to regain lost weight. Obese rats were fed an energy-restricted (50-60% kcal) low-fat diet that reduced body weight by 14%. This reduced weight was maintained for up to 16 wk with limited provisions of the low-fat diet. Intake restriction was then removed, and the rats were followed for 56 days as they relapsed to the obese state. Prolonged weight reduction was accompanied by 1) a persistent energy gap resulting from an increased drive to eat and a reduced expenditure of energy, 2) a higher caloric efficiency of regain that may be linked with suppressed lipid utilization early in the relapse process, 3) preferential lipid accumulation in adipose tissue accompanied by adipocyte hyperplasia, and 4) humoral adiposity signals that underestimate the level of peripheral adiposity and likely influence the neural pathways controlling energy balance. Taken together, long-term weight reduction in this rodent paradigm is accompanied by a number of interrelated compensatory adjustments in the periphery that work together to promote rapid and efficient weight regain. These metabolic adjustments to weight reduction are discussed in the context of a homeostatic feedback system that controls body weight.

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