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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter October 21, 2015

Obesity-associated sympathetic overactivity in children and adolescents: the role of catecholamine resistance in lipid metabolism

Zhengtang Qi and Shuzhe Ding


Background: Obesity in children and adolescents is characterized by chronic sympathetic overdrive and reduced epinephrine-stimulated lipolysis. This resistance to catecholamines occurs during the dynamic phase of fat accumulation. This review will focus on the relationship between sympathetic-adrenal activity and lipid metabolism, thereby highlighting the role of catecholamine resistance in the development of childhood obesity.

Results and conclusions: Catecholamine resistance causes lipid accumulation in adipose tissue by reducing lipolysis, increasing lipogenesis and impeding free fatty acid (FFA) transportation. Exercise improves catecholamine resistance, as evidenced by attenuated systemic sympathetic activity, reduced circulating catecholamine levels and enhanced β-adrenergic receptor signaling. Insulin resistance is mostly a casual result rather than a cause of childhood obesity. Therefore, catecholamine resistance in childhood obesity may promote insulin signaling in adipose tissue, thereby increasing lipogenesis. This review outlines a series of evidence for the role of catecholamine resistance as an upstream mechanism leading to childhood obesity.

Corresponding authors: Zhengtang Qi, PhD and Shuzhe Ding, PhD, College of Physical Education and Health, East China Normal University, 500 Dongchuan Road, 200241 Shanghai, P.R. China, Phone/Fax: +86-21-54345296, E-mail: (Zhengtang Qi), (Shuzhe Ding); and The Key Laboratory of Adolescent Health Assessment and Exercise Intervention, Ministry of Education, East China Normal University, Shanghai, P.R. China


This work was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 31171142, 31300977), and the Key Laboratory Construction Project of Adolescent Health Assessment and Exercise Intervention of Ministry of Education, China (No. 40500-541235-14203/004).

Author contributions: All the authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this submitted manuscript and approved submission.

Research funding: None declared.

Employment or leadership: None declared.

Honorarium: None declared.

Competing interests: The funding organization(s) played no role in the study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the report for publication.


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Received: 2015-5-2
Accepted: 2015-8-27
Published Online: 2015-10-21
Published in Print: 2016-2-1

©2016 by De Gruyter

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