Food additives such as sodium sulphite, sodium benzoate and curcumin inhibit leptin release in lipopolysaccharide-treated murine adipocytes in vitro

Br J Nutr. 2012 Mar;107(6):826-33. doi: 10.1017/S0007114511003680. Epub 2011 Aug 1.


Obesity leads to the activation of pro-inflammatory pathways, resulting in a state of low-grade inflammation. Recently, several studies have shown that the exposure to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) could initiate and maintain a chronic state of low-grade inflammation in obese people. As the daily intake of food additives has increased substantially, the aim of the present study was to investigate a potential influence of food additives on the release of leptin, IL-6 and nitrite in the presence of LPS in murine adipocytes. Leptin, IL-6 and nitrite concentrations were analysed in the supernatants of murine 3T3-L1 adipocytes after co-incubation with LPS and the food preservatives, sodium sulphite (SS), sodium benzoate (SB) and the spice and colourant, curcumin, for 24 h. In addition, the kinetics of leptin secretion was analysed. A significant and dose-dependent decrease in leptin was observed after incubating the cells with SB and curcumin for 12 and 24 h, whereas SS decreased leptin concentrations after 24 h of treatment. Moreover, SS increased, while curcumin decreased LPS-stimulated secretion of IL-6, whereas SB had no such effect. None of the compounds that were investigated influenced nitrite production. The food additives SS, SB and curcumin affect the leptin release after co-incubation with LPS from cultured adipocytes in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Decreased leptin release during the consumption of nutrition-derived food additives could decrease the amount of circulating leptin to which the central nervous system is exposed and may therefore contribute to an obesogenic environment.

MeSH terms

  • 3T3-L1 Cells
  • Adipocytes, White / drug effects*
  • Adipocytes, White / immunology
  • Adipocytes, White / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / adverse effects
  • Appetite Regulation / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Curcumin / adverse effects*
  • Down-Regulation / drug effects
  • Food Additives / adverse effects*
  • Food Preservatives / adverse effects
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism
  • Kinetics
  • Leptin / metabolism*
  • Lipopolysaccharides / toxicity
  • Mice
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / immunology
  • Sodium Benzoate / adverse effects*
  • Sulfites / adverse effects*


  • Antioxidants
  • Food Additives
  • Food Preservatives
  • Interleukin-6
  • Leptin
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Sulfites
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Curcumin
  • Sodium Benzoate
  • sodium sulfite