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Obesity (Silver Spring). 2015 Feb;23(2):329-34. doi: 10.1002/oby.20923. Epub 2014 Oct 18.

Adipose tissue monomethyl branched-chain fatty acids and insulin sensitivity: Effects of obesity and weight loss.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Soochow University Medical College, Suzhou, China; Center for Human Nutrition, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, USA.



An increase in circulating branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) is associated with insulin resistance. Adipose tissue is a potentially important site for BCAA metabolism. It was evaluated whether monomethyl branched-chain fatty acids (mmBCFA) in adipose tissue, which are likely derived from BCAA catabolism, are associated with insulin sensitivity.


Insulin-stimulated glucose disposal was determined by using the hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp procedure with stable isotope glucose tracer infusion in nine lean and nine obese subjects, and in a separate group of nine obese subjects before and 1 year after Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) surgery (38% weight loss). Adipose tissue mmBCFA content was measured in tissue biopsies taken in the basal state.


Total adipose tissue mmBCFA content was ∼30% lower in obese than lean subjects (P=0.02) and increased by ∼65% after weight loss in the RYGB group (P=0.01). Adipose tissue mmBCFA content correlated positively with skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity (R(2) =35%, P=0.01, n=18).


These results demonstrate a novel association between adipose tissue mmBCFA content and obesity-related insulin resistance. Additional studies are needed to determine whether the association between adipose tissue mmBCFA and muscle insulin sensitivity is causal or a simple association.

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