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J Nutr. 1999 Mar;129(3):602-6.

Conjugated linoleic acid inhibits differentiation of pre- and post- confluent 3T3-L1 preadipocytes but inhibits cell proliferation only in preconfluent cells.

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Department of Animal Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis OR 97331, USA.


Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA; 18:2) is a group of isomers (mainly 9-cis, 11-trans and 10-trans, 12-cis) of linoleic acid. CLA is the product of rumen fermentation and can be found in the milk and muscle of ruminants. Animals fed CLA have a lower body fat content. The objective of this study was to establish the possible mechanisms by which CLA affects adipogenesis. 3T3-L1 is a well-established cell line that is used extensively in studying adipocyte biology. These cells typically grow in a culture medium until they reach confluence, at which time they are induced to differentiate by hormonal treatment (d 0). Treatment of 3T3-L1 cells with 25 to 100 micromol/L CLA inhibited differentiation in a dose-dependent manner, while linoleic acid treatment did not differ from DMSO-treated controls. Continuous treatment from d -2, -1, 0 or 2 to d 8 and treatment from d -2 to d 0 and from d 0 to d 2 inhibited differentiation. Differentiation was monitored morphologically (oil Red-O staining), enzymatically (reduction of activity of glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase), and by northern analysis of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma2, CCAAT/enhancer binding protein alpha and adipocyte specific protein 2 mRNA. CLA inhibited cell proliferation of nonconfluent cells but did not affect cell division of confluent cells, as indicated by 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine incorporation and mitochondria metabolism. Therefore, CLA inhibited differentiation before confluence and during induction. However, cellular proliferation was only inhibited prior to induction. These results imply that fat reduction caused by CLA treatment may be attributed to its inhibition of both proliferation and differentiation of preadipocytes in animals.

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