Stimulation of adipogenesis, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma (PPARgamma), and thyrotropin receptor by PPARgamma agonist in human orbital preadipocyte fibroblasts

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002 May;87(5):2352-8. doi: 10.1210/jcem.87.5.8472.


The symptoms and signs of Graves' ophthalmopathy (GO) result from both an accumulation of hydrated hyaluronan in the orbital muscles and connective tissues and an expansion of the orbital adipose tissues. Recent studies have suggested a link between the stimulation of adipogenesis within the orbit in GO and the expression in these tissues of TSH receptor (TSHR), the putative orbital autoantigen. To further investigate this association, we treated orbital fibroblasts from patients with GO with rosiglitazone, a thiazolidinedione agonist of the PPARgamma receptor that stimulates adipocyte differentiation. We found this compound to be a potent stimulator of functional TSHR expression as well as TSHR and PPARgamma mRNA levels in differentiated cultures. In addition, rosiglitazone treatment stimulated recruitment and differentiation of a subset of cells within these cultures into mature lipid-laden adipocytes. These results suggest that TSHR expression in GO orbital preadipocyte fibroblasts is linked to adipogenesis, and that ligation of the PPARgamma receptor results in differentiation of these cells. It is possible that endogenous PPARgamma ligands play a role in stimulating orbital adipogenesis in GO, and that future treatments may be aimed at antagonism of various components of the PPARgamma signaling system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / pathology
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism*
  • Fibroblasts / pathology
  • Graves Disease / metabolism*
  • Graves Disease / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Orbit / metabolism
  • Orbit / pathology*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / agonists
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / genetics
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Thyrotropin / drug effects
  • Receptors, Thyrotropin / genetics
  • Receptors, Thyrotropin / metabolism*
  • Rosiglitazone
  • Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Stem Cells / pathology
  • Thiazoles / pharmacology
  • Thiazolidinediones*
  • Transcription Factors / agonists
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • Receptors, Thyrotropin
  • Thiazoles
  • Thiazolidinediones
  • Transcription Factors
  • Rosiglitazone