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Surgery. 1990 Aug;108(2):228-34; discussion 234-5.

Alterations in adipocyte adenylate cyclase activity in morbidly obese and formerly morbidly obese humans.

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Department of Surgery, Milton S. Hershey Medical Center of Penn State University, College of Medicine, Hershey 17033.


Studies examining animal models of genetic obesity have identified defects in adipocyte hormone-stimulated lipolysis that involve the adenylate cyclase transmembrane signaling system, specifically those components that decrease adenylate cyclase activity. To determine whether obese people demonstrate alterations in adenylate cyclase activity that could contribute to the maintenance of obesity by inhibiting lipolysis, we examined human adipocytes from patients who were lean, obese, or formerly obese. Fat samples were obtained from the lower abdomen of 14 women who were morbidly obese (obese group), from 10 women who were formerly morbidly obese and had lost weight after gastric stapling (postobese group), and from 10 similarly aged women of normal weight (controls). Adipocyte adenylate cyclase activity was determined under ligand-free (no stimulatory or inhibitory influences present), hormone-stimulated (isoproterenol, 10(-6) mmol/L), and maximal (cells stimulated with 10 mumol/L forskolin) conditions by measuring cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) levels by radioimmunoassay. The activity of adenylate cyclase was significantly different (p less than 0.01) in the three groups. Adipocytes from obese women had lower levels of cyclase activity under both ligand-free (5% vs 16% of maximal) and hormone-stimulated conditions (76% vs 100% of maximal) than adipocytes from normal women. Postobese women had levels of hormone-stimulated cAMP identical to those of normal women but still had abnormal ligand-free levels (under 5%). These results suggest the presence of an alteration in adipocyte adenylate cyclase regulation in morbidly obese women that is not entirely corrected when weight is lost after food intake is reduced by gastric stapling. This alteration in ligand-free cAMP activity may contribute to the development and maintenance of obesity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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