Objective: The immunosuppressant drug rapamycin, has been reported to inhibit 3T3-L1 adipocyte differentiation by interfering with critical postconfluent mitoses that are required early on for successful differentiation of this cell line (clonal expansion phase). In contrast to the murine 3T3-L1 preadipocyte cell line, human preadipocytes in primary culture do not undergo clonal expansion during differentiation. We investigated whether rapamycin could inhibit human adipocyte differentiation.
Research methods and procedures: The effect of rapamycin on the induction of differentiation of human preadipocytes in primary culture into adipocytes was measured using Oil Red O staining and glycerol phosphate dehydrogenase activity.
Results: We have observed that rapamycin severely curtails human adipocyte differentiation of both omental and abdominal subcutaneous preadipocytes (to 14% and 19% of standard differentiation, respectively). The rapamycin-mediated inhibition of human adipocyte differentiation could be reversed in the presence of excess amounts of FK-506, which displaces rapamycin from its intracellular receptor, FKPB12. Measurement of cytosolic protein and [3H]thymidine incorporation into DNA confirmed the absence of proliferation during differentiation of human preadipocytes in primary culture.
Discussion: Our data indicate that rapamycin exerts important negative regulatory effects on adipogenesis in human preadipocytes, through a mechanism that does not depend on interruption of clonal expansion.