Hepatic CD36 downregulation parallels steatosis improvement in morbidly obese undergoing bariatric surgery

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Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The notion that hepatic expression of genes involved in lipid metabolism is altered in obese patients is relatively new and its relationship with hepatic steatosis and cardiometabolic alterations remains unclear.

OBJECTIVE:

We assessed the impact of Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery (RYGB) on the expression profile of genes related to metabolic syndrome in liver biopsies from morbidly obese individuals using a custom-made, focused cDNA microarray, and assessed the relationship between the expression profile and hepatic steatosis regression.

MATERIALS AND METHODS:

Plasma and liver samples were obtained from patients at baseline and 12 months after surgery. Samples were assayed for chemical and gene expression analyses, as appropriate. Gene expression profiles were assessed using custom-made, focused TaqMan low-density array cards.

RESULTS:

RYGB-induced weight loss produced a favorable reduction in fat deposits, insulin resistance (estimated by homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR)), and plasma and hepatic lipid levels. Compared with the baseline values, the gene expression levels of key targets of lipid metabolism were significantly altered: CD36 was significantly downregulated (-40%; P = 0.001), whereas APOB (+27%; P = 0.032) and SCARB1 (+37%; P = 0.040) were upregulated in response to surgery-induced weight reduction. We also observed a favorable reduction in the expression of the PAI1 gene (-80%; P = 0.007) and a significant increase in the expression of the PPARA (+60%; P = 0.014) and PPARGC1 genes (+36%; P = 0.015). Notably, the relative fold decrease in the expression of the CD36 gene was directly associated with a concomitant reduction in the cholesterol (Spearman's r = 0.92; P = 0.001) and phospholipid (Spearman's r = 0.76; P = 0.04) contents in this tissue.

CONCLUSIONS:

For the first time, RYGB-induced weight loss was shown to promote a favorable downregulation of CD36 expression, which was proportional to a favorable reduction in the hepatic cholesterol and phospholipid contents in our morbidly obese subjects following surgery.

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