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Int J Mol Med. 2009 Apr;23(4):449-54.

Lecithin promotes adipocyte differentiation and hepatic lipid accumulation.

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Key Laboratory of Nutrition and Metabolism, Institute for Nutritional Sciences, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Graduate School of CAS, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, 200031, PR China.


Lecithin is an essential biological component and widely used as a nutritional supplement for protecting cells from oxidation, increase fat burning and preventing cardiovascular disease. Lecithin contains fatty acids identified as the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) agonists. However, the role of lecithin in adipogenesis and lipogenesis remains elusive. 3T3-L1 cells and mouse primary preadipocytes were used to characterize the properties of lecithin related to adipogenesis and lipogenesis. We found that lecithin promoted adipocyte differentiation and differentiation-specific gene expression, and increased triglycerides and free fatty acid levels in the adipocytes. These effects are independent of the clonal expansion of 3T3-L1 cells and the upstream PPARgamma regulator, CCAAT-enhancer-binding protein beta. Furthermore, lecithin induced lipid accumulation in human hepatoma HepG2 cells. Our data suggest that lecithin is involved in adipogenesis, lipogenesis and hepatic lipid accumulation and it is implicated in obesity and hepatic steatosis.

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