Arachidonic acid and prostacyclin signaling promote adipose tissue development: a human health concern?

J Lipid Res. 2003 Feb;44(2):271-9. doi: 10.1194/jlr.M200346-JLR200. Epub 2002 Nov 4.


High fat intake is associated with fat mass gain through fatty acid activation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors delta and gamma, which promote adipogenesis. We show herein that, compared to a combination of specific agonists to both receptors or to saturated, monounsaturated, and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, arachidonic acid (C20:4, omega-6) promoted substantially the differentiation of clonal preadipocytes. This effect was blocked by cyclooxygenase inhibitors and mimicked by carbacyclin, suggesting a role for the prostacyclin receptor and activation of the cyclic AMP-dependent pathways that regulate the expression of the CCAAT enhancer binding proteins beta and delta implicated in adipogenesis. During the pregnancy-lactation period, mother mice were fed either a high-fat diet rich in linoleic acid, a precursor of arachidonic acid (LO diet), or the same isocaloric diet enriched in linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid (LO/LL diet). Body weight from weaning onwards, fat mass, epididymal fat pad weight, and adipocyte size at 8 weeks of age were higher with LO diet than with LO/LL diet. In contrast, prostacyclin receptor-deficient mice fed either diet were similar in this respect, indicating that the prostacyclin signaling contributes to adipose tissue development. These results raise the issue of the high content of linoleic acid of i) ingested lipids during pregnancy and lactation, and ii) formula milk and infant foods in relation to the epidemic of childhood obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / growth & development*
  • Adipose Tissue / physiology
  • Animals
  • Arachidonic Acid / metabolism*
  • Body Weight
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cyclic AMP / metabolism
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fats / metabolism
  • Epoprostenol / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6 / administration & dosage
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6 / metabolism
  • Female
  • Fibroblasts / cytology
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Pregnancy
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / agonists
  • Receptors, Epoprostenol / genetics
  • Receptors, Epoprostenol / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Transcription Factors / agonists


  • Dietary Fats
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • Receptors, Epoprostenol
  • Transcription Factors
  • Arachidonic Acid
  • Epoprostenol
  • Cyclic AMP