Permanence of molecular features of obesity in subcutaneous adipose tissue of ex-obese subjects

R. Cancello, A. Zulian, D. Gentilini, M. Mencarelli, A. Della Barba, M. Maffei, P. Vitti, C. Invitti, A. Liuzzi, A. M. Di Blasio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective:Bariatric surgery represents a powerful tool for morbid obesity treatment. However, after stabilization of weight loss that follows surgical interventions, ex-obese patients face the problem of residual tissues removal. Actually, it is unknown whether the characteristics of this residual subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) are 'restored' with regard to molecular and morphological features.Design:To clarify this issue, we compared the SAT gene expression profile of ex-obese patients (ExOB-SAT, mean body mass index (BMI): 27.2±1.3 kg m-2) with that of lean (normal weight, NW-SAT, mean BMI: 22.6±1.1 kg m-2), overweight (OW-SAT, BMI: 27.65±0.2 kg m-2) and obese patients, according to BMI classes (OB1-SAT: 30≥BMI≤34.9, OB2-SAT: 35≥BMI≤39.9, OB3-SAT: BMI≥40).Subjects and Methods:A total of 58 samples of SAT were collected during surgical interventions. Gene expression levels were assessed by microarrays and significant genes were validated by RT-qPCR. Adipocyte hypertrophy, inflammatory infiltration and fibrosis were assessed by morphological techniques.Results:Global gene expression in ExOB-SAT was closely related to gene expression of OB3-SAT by hierarchical clustering procedures, in spite of different BMI. Metallothioneins (MT1A and MT2A) were the key over-expressed genes in both groups. At morphologic level, adipocyte hypertrophy and inflammatory infiltration improved after weight loss in ExOB-SAT, despite a persistence of fibrosis.Conclusions:Taken together, these results demonstrate that SAT gene expression is not fully restored, even after an extensive and stable weight loss. The persistence of 'obesity molecular features' in ExOB-SAT suggests that the molecular signature of adipose tissue is not solely dependent on weight loss and may need longer time period to completely disappear.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)867-873
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


  • adipose tissue
  • metallothioneins
  • microarrays
  • weight loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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