SPARC is over-expressed in adipose tissues of diet-induced obese rats and causes insulin resistance in 3T3-L1 adipocytes

Acta Histochem. 2014 Jan;116(1):158-66. doi: 10.1016/j.acthis.2013.06.004. Epub 2013 Aug 2.


Secreted protein acidic and rich in cysteine (SPARC) is a secretory multifunctional matricellular glycoprotein. High circulating levels of SPARC have been reported to be associated with obesity and insulin resistance. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether SPARC induces insulin resistance and mitochondrial dysfunction in adipocytes. Our results showed that feeding high fat diet to rats for 12 weeks significantly increased SPARC expression in adipose tissues at both mRNA and protein levels. Moreover, SPARC overexpression in stably transfected 3T3-L1 cells induced insulin resistance and mitochondrial dysfunction, as evidenced by inhibition of insulin-stimulated glucose transport, lower ATP synthesis and mitochondrial membrane potential, reduced expression of glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4), and increased levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in mature adipocytes. Finally, overexpression of SPARC also modulated the expression levels of several inflammatory cytokines, which play important roles in insulin resistance, glucose and lipid metabolism during adipogenesis. In conclusion, our data suggest that SPARC is involved in obesity-induced adipose insulin resistance and may serve as a potential target in the treatment of obesity and obesity-related insulin resistance.

Keywords: Inflammation; Insulin resistance; Mitochondrial dysfunction; Obesity; SPARC.

MeSH terms

  • 3T3-L1 Cells
  • Animals
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Diet, High-Fat / adverse effects*
  • Epididymis / metabolism
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Membrane Potential, Mitochondrial
  • Mice
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Osteonectin / metabolism*
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism


  • Cytokines
  • Osteonectin
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Glucose