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J Biol Chem. 2004 Jul 2;279(27):27849-54. Epub 2004 Apr 26.

Oleoylethanolamide stimulates lipolysis by activating the nuclear receptor peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPAR-alpha).

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697-4260, USA.


Amides of fatty acids with ethanolamine (FAE) are biologically active lipids that participate in a variety of biological functions, including the regulation of feeding. The polyunsaturated FAE anandamide (arachidonoylethanolamide) increases food intake by activating G protein-coupled cannabinoid receptors. On the other hand, the monounsaturated FAE oleoylethanolamide (OEA) reduces feeding and body weight gain by activating the nuclear receptor PPAR-alpha (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha). In the present report, we examined whether OEA can also influence energy utilization. OEA (1-20 microm) stimulated glycerol and fatty acid release from freshly dissociated rat adipocytes in a concentration-dependent and structurally selective manner. Under the same conditions, OEA had no effect on glucose uptake or oxidation. OEA enhanced fatty acid oxidation in skeletal muscle strips, dissociated hepatocytes, and primary cardiomyocyte cultures. Administration of OEA in vivo (5 mg kg(-1), intraperitoneally) produced lipolysis in both rats and wild-type mice, but not in mice in which PPAR-alpha had been deleted by homologous recombination (PPAR-alpha(-/-)). Likewise, OEA was unable to enhance lipolysis in adipocytes or stimulate fatty acid oxidation in skeletal muscle strips isolated from PPAR-alpha mice. The synthetic PPAR-alpha agonist Wy-14643 produced similar effects, which also were dependent on the presence of PPAR-alpha. Subchronic treatment with OEA reduced body weight gain and triacylglycerol content in liver and adipose tissue of diet-induced obese rats and wild-type mice, but not in obese PPAR-alpha(-/-) mice. The results suggest that OEA stimulates fat utilization through activation of PPAR-alpha and that this effect may contribute to its anti-obesity actions.

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