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Obesity (Silver Spring). 2009 Mar;17(3):431-8. doi: 10.1038/oby.2008.591. Epub 2009 Jan 8.

Anti-inflammatory effect of palmitoylethanolamide on human adipocytes.

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Laboratoire de Biochimie et Génétique Moléculaire, Université de La Réunion, Saint-Denis, France.


Obesity leads to the appearance of an inflammatory process, which can be initiated even with a moderate weight gain. Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) is an endogenous lipid, secreted by human adipocytes, that possesses numerous anti-inflammatory properties. The main purpose of this study was to investigate the anti-inflammatory effect of PEA on human adipocytes, as well as in a murine model. The production of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) by lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-treated human subcutaneous adipocytes in primary culture and CF-1 mice was investigated by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The effects of PEA on adipocyte TNF-alpha secretion were explored as well as some suspected PEA anti-inflammatory pathways: nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) pathway, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-alpha (PPAR-alpha) gene expression, and TNF-alpha-converting enzyme (TACE) activity. The effects of PEA on the TNF-alpha serum concentration in intraperitoneally LPS-treated mice were also studied. We demonstrate that the LPS induced secretion of TNF-alpha by human adipocytes is inhibited by PEA. This action is neither linked to a reduction in TNF-alpha gene transcription nor to the inhibition of TACE activity. Moreover, PPAR-alpha is not implicated in this anti-inflammatory activity. Lastly, PEA exhibits a wide-reaching anti-inflammatory action as the molecule is able to completely inhibit the strong increase in TNF-alpha levels in the serum of mice treated with high doses of LPS. In view of its virtual lack of toxicity, PEA might become a potentially interesting candidate molecule in the prevention of obesity-associated insulin resistance.

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