Diet-induced weight loss decreases adipose tissue oxygen tension with parallel changes in adipose tissue phenotype and insulin sensitivity in overweight humans

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Although adipose tissue (AT) hypoxia is present in rodent models of obesity, evidence for this in humans is limited. Here, we investigated the effects of diet-induced weight loss (WL) on abdominal subcutaneous AT oxygen tension (pO2), AT blood flow (ATBF), AT capillary density, AT morphology and transcriptome, systemic inflammatory markers and insulin sensitivity in humans.


Fifteen overweight and obese individuals underwent a dietary intervention (DI), consisting of a 5-week very-low-calorie diet (VLCD, 500 kcal day-1; WL), and a subsequent 4-week weight stable diet (WS). Body composition, AT pO2 (optochemical monitoring), ATBF (133Xe washout), and whole-body insulin sensitivity were determined, and AT biopsies were collected at baseline, end of WL (week 5) and end of WS (week 9).


Body weight, body fat percentage and adipocyte size decreased significantly during the DI period. The DI markedly decreased AT pO2 and improved insulin sensitivity, but did not alter ATBF. Finally, the DI increased AT gene expression of pathways related to mitochondrial biogenesis and non-mitochondrial oxygen consumption.


VLCD-induced WL markedly decreases abdominal subcutaneous AT pO2, which is paralleled by a reduction in adipocyte size, increased AT gene expression of mitochondrial biogenesis markers and non-mitochondrial oxygen consumption pathways, and improved whole-body insulin sensitivity in humans.

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