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J Clin Invest. 2006 Oct;116(10):2791-8. Epub 2006 Sep 14.

TNF-alpha downregulates eNOS expression and mitochondrial biogenesis in fat and muscle of obese rodents.

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  • 1Integrated Laboratories Network, Center for Study and Research on Obesity, Department of Pharmacology, School of Medicine, University of Milan, Milan, Italy.


Obesity is associated with chronic low-grade inflammation. Thus, at metabolically relevant sites, including adipose tissue and muscle, there is abnormal production of proinflammatory cytokines such as TNF-alpha. Here we demonstrate that eNOS expression was reduced, with a concomitant reduction of mitochondrial biogenesis and function, in white and brown adipose tissue and in the soleus muscle of 3 different animal models of obesity. The genetic deletion of TNF receptor 1 in obese mice restored eNOS expression and mitochondrial biogenesis in fat and muscle; this was associated with less body weight gain than in obese wild-type controls. Furthermore, TNF-alpha downregulated eNOS expression and mitochondrial biogenesis in cultured white and brown adipocytes and muscle satellite cells of mice. The NO donors DETA-NO and SNAP prevented the reduction of mitochondrial biogenesis observed with TNF-alpha. Our findings demonstrate that TNF-alpha impairs mitochondrial biogenesis and function in different tissues of obese rodents by downregulating eNOS expression and suggest a novel pathophysiological process that sustains obesity.

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