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J Biol Chem. 2004 Apr 9;279(15):15130-41. Epub 2004 Jan 13.

In vitro suppression of the lipogenic pathway by the nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor efavirenz in 3T3 and human preadipocytes or adipocytes.

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UMR CNRS 7079-Université Paris VI and INSERM U465, Centre de Recherches Biomédicales des Cordeliers, 15 rue de l'Ecole de Médecine, 75006 Paris, France.


A serious metabolic syndrome combining insulin-resistance, dyslipidemia, central adiposity, and peripheral lipoatrophy has arisen in HIV-infected patients receiving highly active antiretroviral therapy. The aim of this work was to examine the effects of the nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) efavirenz on adipocyte differentiation and metabolism. When induced to differentiate in the presence of efavirenz (5-50 microm), 3T3-F442A preadipocytes failed to accumulate cytoplasmic triacylglycerol droplets. This phenomenon was rapidly reversible and was also readily detectable in the 3T3-L1 preadipose cell line and in primary cultures of human preadipocytes. When applied to mature 3T3-F442A adipocytes, efavirenz induced a delayed and moderate reduction in cell triglyceride content. Measurement of [(3)H]deoxyglucose uptake, basal and agonist-stimulated lipolysis, and cell viability indicated that these pathways are not involved in efavirenz effects on triacylglycerol accumulation. By contrast, we found that the NNRTI induced a dramatic dose- and time-dependent decrease in gene and protein expression of the lipogenic transcription factor sterol regulatory element-binding protein-1c (SREBP-1c). Adipose conversion was only altered at the highest efavirenz concentrations, as suggested by the mild reduction in peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma and CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein-alpha. CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein-beta remained unchanged. The inhibition of SREBP-1c expression was accompanied by a sharp reduction in the expression of SREBP-1c target genes and in the adipocyte lipogenic activity in efavirenz-treated cells. Finally, the inhibitory effect of efavirenz on cell triglyceride accumulation was prevented by directly providing free fatty acids to the cells and was reversed by overexpression of a dominant positive form of SREBP-1c, reinforcing the implication of this transcription factor in the antilipogenic effect of the drug. When considered together, these results demonstrate for the first time that the NNRTI efavirenz induces a strong inhibition of the SREBP-1c-dependent lipogenic pathway that might contribute to adipose tissue atrophy.

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