Environmental chemical tributyltin augments adipocyte differentiation

Toxicol Lett. 2005 Dec 15;159(3):226-34. doi: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2005.05.015. Epub 2005 Jun 29.


Scientific attention has been drawn to environmental factors that affect obesity and type II diabetes. Previously, acute organotin toxicosis was reported to induce hyperglycemia without morphological abnormalities in islet tissue, suggesting that these compounds have a direct effect on adipose tissue. Therefore, we investigated the effect of tributyltin (TBT) on adipocyte differentiation. When confluent 3T3-L1 cells were incubated with TBT for 2 days in the presence or absence of isobutyl methylxanthine, dexamethasone and insulin (MDI), the lipid accumulation in adipocytes was greatly enhanced. These morphological changes induced by TBT were accompanied by the expression of a differentiation marker for adipocytes in a dose-dependent manner. Co-treatment with the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)gamma antagonist GW9662 did not inhibit the effect of TBT, suggesting that the observed effect of TBT may not be PPARgamma-dependent. Although TBT was reported to exert androgenic effects and inhibit the activity of aromatase, treatments with dihydrotestosterone or 17beta-estradiol did not influence the aP2 expression in 3T3-L1 cells, suggesting that the TBT effect does not occur via sex-steroids. These findings indicate that TBT may be one of the environmental chemicals that lead to excessive accumulation of adipose tissue, which can result in obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3T3-L1 Cells
  • Adipocytes / cytology
  • Adipocytes / drug effects*
  • Adipocytes / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects*
  • Culture Media
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Lipid Metabolism / drug effects*
  • Mice
  • PPAR gamma / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Trialkyltin Compounds / toxicity*


  • Culture Media
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • PPAR gamma
  • Trialkyltin Compounds
  • tributyltin