Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Catecholamine-induced lipolysis in obesity


Catecholamines are the only hormones with pronounced lipolytic action in man. A number of in vivo and in vitro studies suggest that there is lipolytic resistance to catecholamines in subcutaneous adipose tissue, which is the major fat depot in obese subjects. This is due to multiple alterations in catecholamine signal transduction, involving decreased expression and function of β2-adrenoceptors, increased function of α2-adrenoceptors and decreased ability of cyclic monophosphate (AMP) to stimulate hormone sensitive lipase. A sedentary life-style, which usually characterizes obesity, may contribute to the catecholamine resistance. However, hereditary/genetic factors may also be involved. Recently, decreased expression and function of hormone sensitive lipase has been found in subcutaneous adipocytes of non-obese subjects with heredity for obesity. In addition, polymorphisms in the genes for β2-adrenoceptors, β3-adrenoceptors and hormone sensitive lipase, associate with obesity. On the other hand, catecholamine-induced lipolysis in visceral adipose tissue is increased in obesity due to increased function of β3-adrenoceptors (major finding), decreased function of α2-adrenoceptors and increased ability of cyclic AMP to stimulate lipolysis. When the findings in different adipose regions are considered together, it appears that there is a re-distribution of lipolysis and thereby fatty acid mobilization in obesity, favouring the visceral fat depot. This leads to an increase in the circulating fatty acid levels in the portal vein, which connects visceral fat with the liver. As a consequence, the liver function may be altered leading to hyperinsulinemia, hyperglycemia and dyslipidemia, which usually accompany the obese state.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Get just this article for as long as you need it


Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Arner, P. Catecholamine-induced lipolysis in obesity. Int J Obes 23 (Suppl 1), S10–S13 (1999).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • fat cells
  • adrenergic receptors
  • fat acids
  • insulin
  • adipose tissue
  • diet
  • exercise
  • genes

This article is cited by


Quick links