In vitro effects of chorionic gonadotropin hormone on human adipose development

J Endocrinol. 2007 Aug;194(2):313-25. doi: 10.1677/JOE-06-0101.


It is well known that pregnancy is associated with fat weight gain. However, the mechanisms whereby fat mass accumulation is controlled during this period are poorly understood. Therefore, we attempted to determine whether human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), in vitro, influences human adipose tissue development and/or metabolism. For the first time, HCG/LH receptor was characterized in human adipose cells. We also demonstrated that physiological concentrations of HCG, while unaltering both lipolysis and expression of two markers of lipogenesis (FAS and ADD1) in human mature adipocytes, stimulate human preadipocyte growth via the activation of a protein kinase A-independent mitogen-activated protein kinase/c-fos signaling pathway. HCG also moderately increases the preadipocyte differentiation capacity as reflected by enhanced glycerophosphate dehydrogenase activity and expression of key adipogenic transcriptional factors (C/enhancer-binding protein alpha and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma 2). Finally, HCG significantly stimulates the secretion of the pro-adipogenic factor, leptin, from human adipose tissue. Taken altogether, these data suggest that the pro-adipogenic effect of HCG in human preadipocytes contributes to explain why increased fat storage occurs during the first trimester of pregnancy.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / growth & development*
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • CCAAT-Enhancer-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • CCAAT-Enhancer-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chorionic Gonadotropin / pharmacology*
  • Cyclic AMP / metabolism
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Female
  • Gene Expression / drug effects
  • Genes, fos
  • Glycerolphosphate Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Leptin / genetics
  • Leptin / metabolism
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System / drug effects*
  • PPAR gamma / genetics
  • PPAR gamma / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, First
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Receptors, LH / analysis
  • Receptors, LH / metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • CCAAT-Enhancer-Binding Proteins
  • Chorionic Gonadotropin
  • Leptin
  • PPAR gamma
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, LH
  • Cyclic AMP
  • Glycerolphosphate Dehydrogenase