Fisetin Suppresses Lipid Accumulation in Mouse Adipocytic 3T3-L1 Cells by Repressing GLUT4-Mediated Glucose Uptake through Inhibition of mTOR-C/EBPα Signaling

J Agric Food Chem. 2015 May 27;63(20):4979-87. doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.5b00821. Epub 2015 May 18.


3,7,3',4'-Tetrahydroxyflavone (fisetin) is a flavonoid found in vegetables and fruits having broad biological activities. Here the effects of fisetin on adipogenesis and its regulatory mechanism in mouse adipocytic 3T3-L1 cells are studied. Fisetin inhibited the accumulation of intracellular lipids and lowered the expression of adipogenic genes such as peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ and CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein (C/EBP) α and fatty acid-binding protein 4 (aP2) during adipogenesis. Moreover, the mRNA levels of genes such as acetyl-CoA carboxylase, fatty acid synthase, and stearoyl-CoA desaturase involved in the fatty acid biosynthesis (lipogenesis) were reduced by the treatment with fisetin. The expression level of the glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4) gene was also decreased by fisetin, resulting in down-regulation of glucose uptake. Furthermore, fisetin inhibited the phosphorylation of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and that of p70 ribosomal S6 kinase, a target of the mTOR complex, the inhibition of which was followed by a decreased mRNA level of the C/EBPα gene. The results obtained from a chromatin immunoprecipitation assay demonstrated that the ability of C/EBPα to bind to the GLUT4 gene promoter was reduced by the treatment with fisetin, which agreed well with those obtained when 3T3-L1 cells were allowed to differentiate into adipocytes in medium in the presence of rapamycin, an inhibitor for mTOR. These results indicate that fisetin suppressed the accumulation of intracellular lipids by inhibiting GLUT4-mediated glucose uptake through inhibition of the mTOR-C/EBPα signaling in 3T3-L1 cells.

Keywords: C/EBPα; adipocytes; fisetin; glucose uptake; mTOR.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3T3-L1 Cells
  • Adipocytes / cytology
  • Adipocytes / drug effects
  • Adipocytes / metabolism*
  • Adipogenesis / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport / drug effects
  • CCAAT-Enhancer-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • CCAAT-Enhancer-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Glucose Transporter Type 4 / genetics
  • Glucose Transporter Type 4 / metabolism*
  • Lipid Metabolism / drug effects*
  • Mice
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / drug effects
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*


  • CCAAT-Enhancer-Binding Proteins
  • CEBPA protein, mouse
  • Flavonoids
  • Glucose Transporter Type 4
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • mTOR protein, mouse
  • Glucose
  • fisetin