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J Biol Chem. 2009 Feb 27;284(9):5915-26. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M807852200. Epub 2009 Jan 3.

Bacterial endotoxin stimulates adipose lipolysis via toll-like receptor 4 and extracellular signal-regulated kinase pathway.

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Department of Physiology and Pathophysiology, Peking University Health Science Center, Beijing 100191, China.


Bacterial endotoxin/lipopolysaccharide elicits inflammatory responses and also elevates circulating levels of free fatty acids (FFAs) and impairs insulin sensitivity. Serum FFA elevation in acute endotoxemia has long been thought to be due to endotoxin dysregulating lipid disposal and counterregulatory hormones and cytokines. Here, we investigated the direct lipolysis effect of endotoxin in rodents and in isolated primary adipocytes. Endotoxin increases lipolysis in vivo in adipose tissues, elevates circulating FFA level, induces insulin resistance in rats, and directly stimulates chronic lipolysis in vitro in adipocytes. The lipolytic action of endotoxin is mediated via its lipid A moiety and is blocked by anti-endotoxin peptides. Neither adipocytokine secretion nor nuclear factor-kappaB activation is involved in endotoxin-induced lipolysis. Different from catecholamine, endotoxin stimulates lipolysis without elevating cAMP production and activating protein kinase A and protein kinase C. Instead, endotoxin induces phosphorylation of Raf-1, MEK1/2, and ERK1/2. Upon inhibition of ERK1/2 but not JNK and p38 MAPK, endotoxin-stimulated lipolysis ceases. Endotoxin causes perilipin down-regulation and phosphorylation and increases the activity and protein levels of hormone-sensitive lipase and adipose triglyceride lipase but does not induce hormone-sensitive lipase translocation to intracellular lipid droplets. In TLR4 (Toll-like receptor 4)-deficient mice and adipocytes, endotoxin fails to increase in vivo and in vitro lipolysis. These findings suggest that endotoxin stimulates lipolysis via TLR4 and ERK1/2 signaling in adipocytes. The lipolytic action of endotoxin liberates FFA efflux from adipocytes to the bloodstream, which is a possible basis for systemic FFA elevation and insulin resistance in endotoxemia or Gram-negative bacterial infection.

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