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Br J Nutr. 2016 Mar 14;115(5):913-20. doi: 10.1017/S0007114515005139. Epub 2016 Jan 13.

Weight loss-induced stress in subcutaneous adipose tissue is related to weight regain.

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Department of Human Biology,Maastricht University,6200 MD Maastricht,The Netherlands.


Initial successful weight loss is often followed by weight regain after the dietary intervention. Compared with lean people, cellular stress in adipose tissue is increased in obese subjects. However, the relation between cellular stress and the risk for weight regain after weight loss is unclear. Therefore, we determined the expression levels of stress proteins during weight loss and weight maintenance in relation to weight regain. In vivo findings were compared with results from in vitro cultured human Simpson-Golabi-Behmel syndrome (SGBS) adipocytes. In total, eighteen healthy subjects underwent an 8-week diet programme with a 10-month follow-up. Participants were categorised as weight maintainers or weight regainers (WR) depending on their weight changes during the intervention. Abdominal subcutaneous adipose tissue biopsies were obtained before and after the diet and after the follow-up. In vitro differentiated SGBS adipocytes were starved for 96 h with low (0·55 mm) glucose. Levels of stress proteins were determined by Western blotting. WR showed increased expressions of β-actin, calnexin, heat shock protein (HSP) 27, HSP60 and HSP70. Changes of β-actin, HSP27 and HSP70 are linked to HSP60, a proposed key factor in weight regain after weight loss. SGBS adipocytes showed increased levels of β-actin and HSP60 after 96 h of glucose restriction. The increased level of cellular stress proteins in the adipose tissue of WR probably resides in the adipocytes as shown by in vitro experiments. Cellular stress accumulated in adipose tissue during weight loss may be a risk factor for weight regain.


Adipocytes; BiP binding Ig protein; Cellular stress; ER endoplasmic reticulum; HSP heat shock protein; SGBS Simpson–Golabi–Behmel Syndrome; SOD superoxide dismutase; Stress proteins; WM weight maintainers; WR weight regainers; Weight loss; Weight regain

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