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Endocrinology. 2011 Jan;152(1):113-25. doi: 10.1210/en.2010-0674. Epub 2010 Nov 17.

Antiadipogenic effects of the mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist drospirenone: potential implications for the treatment of metabolic syndrome.

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Centre for Clinical and Basic Research, Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico San Raffaele Pisana, 81-00163 Rome, Italy.


The mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) mediates aldosterone- and glucocorticoid-induced adipocyte differentiation. Drospirenone (DRSP) is a potent synthetic antimineralocorticoid with progestogenic and antiandrogenic properties, which is widely used for contraception and hormone replacement therapy. We investigated its potential role on adipocyte differentiation. The effects of DRSP were studied in murine preadipocyte cell lines and primary cultures of human preadipocytes. Differentiation markers and mechanisms underlying phenotypic variations in response to DRSP were explored. Early exposure to DRSP during differentiation led to a marked dose-dependent inhibition of adipose differentiation and triglyceride accumulation in 3T3-L1 and 3T3-F442A cells. DRSP also markedly inhibited adipose conversion of human primary preadipocytes derived from visceral (mesenteric and epicardial) and subcutaneous fat. This effect was MR-dependent and did not involve the glucocorticoid, androgen, or progesterone receptors. DRSP inhibited clonal expansion of preadipocytes and decreased expression of PPARγ, a key transcriptional mediator of adipogenesis, but had no effect on lipolysis, glucose uptake, and PPARγ binding to its ligands. DRSP exerts a potent antiadipogenic effect that is related to an alteration of the transcriptional control of adipogenesis via an antagonistic effect on the MR. Selective MR blockade therefore has promise as a novel therapeutic option for the control of excessive adipose tissue deposition and its related metabolic complications.

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