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J Biol Chem. 2002 Mar 8;277(10):8635-47. Epub 2001 Dec 5.

Caveolin-1-deficient mice are lean, resistant to diet-induced obesity, and show hypertriglyceridemia with adipocyte abnormalities.

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Department of Molecular Pharmacology, The Albert Einstein Cancer Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York 10461, USA.


Caveolae organelles and caveolin-1 protein expression are most abundant in adipocytes and endothelial cells. Our initial report on mice lacking caveolin-1 (Cav-1) demonstrated a loss of caveolae and perturbations in endothelial cell function. More recently, however, observation of the Cav-1-deficient cohorts into old age revealed significantly lower body weights, as compared with wild-type controls. These results suggest that Cav-1 null mice may have problems with lipid metabolism and/or adipocyte functioning. To test this hypothesis directly, we placed a cohort of wild-type and Cav-1 null mice on a high fat diet. Interestingly, despite being hyperphagic, Cav-1 null mice show overt resistance to diet-induced obesity. As predicted, adipocytes from Cav-1 null null mice lack caveolae membranes. Early on, a lack of caveolin-1 selectively affects only the female mammary gland fat pad and results in a near complete ablation of the hypo-dermal fat layer. There are also indications of generalized adipose tissue pathology. With increasing age, a systemic decompensation in lipid accumulation occurs resulting in dramatically smaller fat pads, histologically reduced adipocyte cell diameter, and a poorly differentiated/hypercellular white adipose parenchyma. To gain mechanistic insights into this phenotype, we show that, although serum insulin, glucose, and cholesterol levels are entirely normal, Cav-1 null mice have severely elevated triglyceride and free fatty acid levels, especially in the post-prandial state. However, this build-up of triglyceride-rich chylomicrons/very low density lipoproteins is not due to perturbed lipoprotein lipase activity, a major culprit of isolated hypertriglyceridemia. The lean body phenotype and metabolic defects observed in Cav-1 null mice are consistent with the previously proposed functions of caveolin-1 and caveolae in adipocytes. Our results show for the first time a clear role for caveolins in systemic lipid homeostasis in vivo and place caveolin-1/caveolae as major factors in hyperlipidemias and obesity.

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