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Lipids. 2019 Jan;54(1):99-107. doi: 10.1002/lipd.12123. Epub 2019 Feb 5.

Supplementation of All-Trans-Retinoic Acid Below Cytotoxic Levels Promotes Adipogenesis in 3T3-L1 Cells.

Kim DH1,2, Lee JW1,2, Lee K3.

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Biotherapeutics Translational Research Center, Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology, 125, Gwakhak-ro, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon 34141, Republic of Korea.
Department of Functional Genomics, University of Science and Technology, 217, Gajung-ro, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon 34113, Republic of Korea.
Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.


Vitamin A, referred to as retinol, is an essential nutrient that affects the cell growth and differentiation including adipogenesis. Although previous studies using supraphysiological doses (over 1 μM) of all-trans-retinoic acid (atRA) demonstrated antiadipogenic activity, effects of atRA at various levels on differentiation of 3T3-L1 preadipocytes have not been extensively investigated. Our study showed that the amount of cellular triacylglycerol (TAG) and intensities of Oil-Red-O staining were decreased by supplementing atRA (1 and 10 μM) but increased by low concentrations of atRA (0.01 to 100 nM) compared with the control. Also PPARγ and FABP4 were gradually overexpressed by atRA up to 1 nM but decreased at over 1 nM concentrations. Moreover, mitotic clonal expansion (MCE) and consequential growth-arrest were analyzed as important steps in adipogenesis of 3T3-L1 cells. The 1 nM group showed more cell proliferation and thereafter a higher ratio of the G0/G1 phase on Day 2. Protein levels of S/G2-phase factors were dose dependently increased by atRA up to 1 nM on Day 1, but the factors were highly expressed in higher doses on Day 2. G0/G1 markers were higher at the higher doses of atRA on Day 1; whereas, they were highly expressed in mild or medium doses on Day 2. These data indicate that atRA controls adipogenesis with accompanied changes in cell proliferation and follow-up growth-arrest. These results indicate that atRA can function both as a negative and positive regulator of adipogenesis depending on dosages, providing a strategy for achieving proper nutritional balance for treatment of obesity.


3T3-L1 cells; Adipogenesis; All-trans-retinoic acid; Cell proliferation; Growth-arrest

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