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Open Access Research

Adipose tissue endocannabinoid system gene expression: depot differences and effects of diet and exercise

Tongjian You1*, Beth L Disanzo2, Xuewen Wang3, Rongze Yang4 and Dawei Gong4

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Exercise and Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts Boston, Boston, MA 02125, USA

2 Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY 14214, USA

3 Center for Human Nutrition, Division of Geriatrics and Nutritional Science, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA

4 Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Nutrition, Department of Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA

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Lipids in Health and Disease 2011, 10:194  doi:10.1186/1476-511X-10-194

Published: 28 October 2011

Abstract

Background

Alterations of endocannabinoid system in adipose tissue play an important role in lipid regulation and metabolic dysfunction associated with obesity. The purpose of this study was to determine whether gene expression levels of cannabinoid type 1 receptor (CB1) and fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) are different in subcutaneous abdominal and gluteal adipose tissue, and whether hypocaloric diet and aerobic exercise influence subcutaneous adipose tissue CB1 and FAAH gene expression in obese women.

Methods

Thirty overweight or obese, middle-aged women (BMI = 34.3 ± 0.8 kg/m2, age = 59 ± 1 years) underwent one of three 20-week weight loss interventions: caloric restriction only (CR, N = 9), caloric restriction plus moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (CRM, 45-50% HRR, N = 13), or caloric restriction plus vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise (CRV, 70-75% HRR, N = 8). Subcutaneous abdominal and gluteal adipose tissue samples were collected before and after the interventions to measure CB1 and FAAH gene expression.

Results

At baseline, FAAH gene expression was higher in abdominal, compared to gluteal adipose tissue (2.08 ± 0.11 vs. 1.78 ± 0.10, expressed as target gene/β-actin mRNA ratio × 10-3, P < 0.05). Compared to pre-intervention, CR did not change abdominal, but decreased gluteal CB1 (Δ = -0.82 ± 0.25, P < 0.05) and FAAH (Δ = -0.49 ± 0.14, P < 0.05) gene expression. CRM or CRV alone did not change adipose tissue CB1 and FAAH gene expression. However, combined CRM and CRV (CRM+CRV) decreased abdominal adipose tissue FAAH gene expression (Δ = -0.37 ± 0.18, P < 0.05). The changes in gluteal CB1 and abdominal FAAH gene expression levels in the CR alone and the CRM+CRV group were different (P < 0.05) or tended to be different (P = 0.10).

Conclusions

There are depot differences in subcutaneous adipose tissue endocannabinoid system gene expression in obese individuals. Aerobic exercise training may preferentially modulate abdominal adipose tissue endocannabinoid-related gene expression during dietary weight loss.

Trial Registration

ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT00664729.

Keywords:
Cannabinoid Type 1 Receptor; Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase; Fat Depots; Diet; Exercise