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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2009 May 8;382(3):549-54. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2009.03.059. Epub 2009 Mar 14.

Carnosic acid and carnosol inhibit adipocyte differentiation in mouse 3T3-L1 cells through induction of phase2 enzymes and activation of glutathione metabolism.

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Department of Welfare Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Iwate University, Morioka, Iwate 020-8551, Japan.


In the previous studies, we reported that carnosic acid (CA) and carnosol (CS) originating from rosemary protected cortical neurons by activating the Keap1/Nrf2 pathway, which activation was initiated by S-alkylation of the critical cysteine thiol of the Keap1 protein by the "electrophilic"quinone-type of CA or CS. Here, we found that CA and CS inhibited the in vitro differentiation of mouse preadipocytes, 3T3-L1 cells, into adipocytes. In contrast, other physiologically-active and rosemary-originated compounds were completely negative. These actions seemed to be mediated by activation of the antioxidant-response element (ARE) and induction of phase2 enzymes. This estimation is justified by our present findings that only CA and CS among rosemary-originated compounds significantly activated the ARE and induced the phase2 enzymes. Next, we performed cDNA microarray analysis in order to identify the gene(s) responsible for these biological actions and found that phase2 enzymes (Gsta2, Gclc, Abcc4, and Abcc1), all of which are involved in the metabolism of glutathione (GSH), constituted 4 of the top 5 CA-induced genes. Furthermore, CA and CS, but not the other compounds tested, significantly increased the intracellular level of total GSH. Thus, we propose that the stimulation of GSH metabolism may be a critical step for the inhibition of adipocyte differentiation in 3T3-L1 cells and suggest that pro-electrophilic compounds such as CA and CS may be potential drugs against obesity-related diseases.

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