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It has been suggested that metabolic dysfunction in obesity is at least in part driven by adipose tissue (AT) hypoxia. However, studies on AT hypoxia in humans have shown conflicting data. Therefore we aimed to investigate if markers of AT hypoxia were present in the subcutaneous AT of severly obese individuals (class III obesity) with and without hypoventilation syndrome (OHS) in comparison to moderately obese (class I obesity) and lean controls. To provide a proof-of-concept study, we quantified AT hypoxia by hypoxia inducible factor 1 A (HIF1A) protein abundance in human participants ranging from lean to severly obese (class III obesity). On top of that nightly arterial O2 saturation in individuals with obesity OHS was assessed. Subjects with class III obesity (BMI > 40 kg/m2) and OHS exhibited significantly higher adipose HIF1A protein levels versus those with class I obesity (BMI 30-34.9 kg/m2) and lean controls whereas those with class III obesity without OHS showed an intermediate response. HIF1A gene expression was not well correlated with protein abundance. Although these data demonstrate genuine AT hypoxia in the expected pathophysiological context of OHS, we did not observe a hypoxia signal in lesser degrees of obesity suggesting that adipose dysfunction may not be driven by hypoxia in moderate obesity.

Original publication




Journal article


Int J Obes (Lond)

Publication Date