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Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2001 Jun;280(6):R1772-80.

Altered expression of C/EBP family members results in decreased adipogenesis with aging.

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Department of Medicine, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts 02118, USA.


Fat mass, adipocyte size and metabolic responsiveness, and preadipocyte differentiation decrease between middle and old age. We show that expression of CCAAT/enhancer binding protein (C/EBP)-alpha, a key regulator of adipogenesis and fat cell function, declined substantially with aging in differentiating preadipocytes cultured under identical conditions from rats of various ages. Overexpression of C/EBP alpha in preadipocytes cultured from old rats restored capacity to differentiate into fat cells, indicating that downstream differentiation-dependent genes maintain responsiveness to regulators of adipogenesis. C/EBP alpha-expression also decreased with age in fat tissue from three different depots and in isolated fat cells. The overall level of C/EBP beta, which modulates C/EBP alpha-expression, did not change with age, but the truncated, dominant-negative C/EBP beta-liver inhibitory protein (LIP) isoform increased in cultured preadipocytes and isolated fat cells. Overexpression of C/EBP beta-LIP in preadipocytes from young rats impaired adipogenesis. C/EBP delta, which acts with full-length C/EBP beta to enhance adipogenesis, decreased with age. Thus processes intrinsic to adipose cells involving changes in C/EBP family members contribute to impaired adipogenesis and altered fat tissue function with aging. These effects are potentially reversible.

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