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Toxicol Sci. 2011 Aug;122(2):476-88. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfr140. Epub 2011 May 27.

Organotins are potent activators of PPARγ and adipocyte differentiation in bone marrow multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells.

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Department of Environmental Health, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts 02118, USA.


Adipocyte differentiation in bone marrow is potentially deleterious to both bone integrity and lymphopoiesis. Here, we examine the hypothesis that organotins, common environmental contaminants that are dual ligands for peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) γ and its heterodimerization partner retinoid X receptor (RXR), are potent activators of bone marrow adipogenesis. A C57Bl/6-derived bone marrow multipotent mesenchymal stromal cell (MSC) line, BMS2, was treated with rosiglitazone, a PPARγ agonist, bexarotene, an RXR agonist, or a series of organotins. Rosiglitazone and bexarotene potently activated adipocyte differentiation; however, bexarotene had a maximal efficacy of only 20% of that induced by rosiglitazone. Organotins (tributyltin [TBT], triphenyltin, and dibutyltin) also stimulated adipocyte differentiation (EC₅₀ of 10-20 nM) but with submaximal, structure-dependent efficacy. In coexposures, both bexarotene and TBT enhanced rosiglitazone-induced adipogenesis. To investigate the contribution of PPARγ to TBT-induced adipogenesis, we examined expression of PPARγ2, as well as its transcriptional target FABP4. TBT-induced PPARγ2 and FABP4 protein expression with an efficacy intermediate between rosiglitazone and bexarotene, similar to lipid accumulation. A PPARγ antagonist and PPARγ-specific small hairpin RNA suppressed TBT-induced differentiation, although to a lesser extent than rosiglitazone-induced differentiation, suggesting that TBT may engage alternate pathways. TBT and bexarotene, but not rosiglitazone, also induced the expression of TGM2 (an RXR target) and ABCA1 (a liver X receptor target). The results show that an environmental contaminant, acting with the same potency as a therapeutic drug, induces PPARγ-dependent adipocyte differentiation in bone marrow MSCs. Activation of multiple nuclear receptor pathways by organotins may have significant implications for bone physiology.

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