Key Genes of Lipid Metabolism and WNT-Signaling Are Downregulated in Subcutaneous Adipose Tissue with Moderate Weight Loss

Ruth Schübel, Disorn Sookthai, Judith Greimel, Theron S Johnson, Mirja E Grafetstätter, Romy Kirsten, Mario Kratz, Cornelia M Ulrich, Rudolf Kaaks, Tilman Kühn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
104 Downloads (Pure)


Smaller cross-sectional studies and bariatric surgery trials suggest that weight loss may change the expression of genes in adipose tissue that have been implicated in the development of metabolic diseases, but well-powered intervention trials are lacking. In post hoc analyses of data from a 12-week dietary intervention trial initially designed to compare metabolic effects of intermittent vs. continuous calorie restriction, we analyzed the effects of overall weight loss on the subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) transcriptome. Changes in the transcriptome were measured by microarray using SAT samples of 138 overweight or obese individuals (age range: 35⁻65 years, BMI range: 25⁻40, non-smokers, non-diabetics). Participants were grouped post hoc according to the degree of their weight loss by quartiles (average weight loss in quartiles 1 to 4: 0%, -3.2%, -5.9%, and -10.7%). Candidate genes showing differential expression with weight loss according to microarray analyses were validated by reverse transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR), and fold changes (FCs) were calculated to quantify differences in gene expression. A comparison of individuals in the highest vs. the lowest weight loss quartile revealed 681 genes to be differentially expressed (corrected p < 0.05), with 40 showing FCs of at least 0.4. Out of these, expression changes in secreted frizzled-related protein 2 (SFRP2, FC = 0.65, p = 0.006), stearoyl-CoA desaturase (SCD, FC = -1.00, p < 0.001), and hypoxia inducible lipid droplet-associated (HILPDA, FC = -0.45, p = 0.001) with weight loss were confirmed by RT-qPCR. Dietary weight loss induces significant changes in the expression of genes implicated in lipid metabolism (SCD and HILPDA) and WNT-signaling (SFRP2) in SAT.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2019


  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Caloric Restriction/methods
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Down-Regulation/genetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism/genetics
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins/metabolism
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Proteins/metabolism
  • Obesity/diet therapy
  • Stearoyl-CoA Desaturase/metabolism
  • Subcutaneous Fat/metabolism
  • Transcriptome
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Loss/genetics
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway/genetics


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