Enzymatic fragments of hyaluronan inhibit adipocyte differentiation in 3T3-L1 pre-adipocytes

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2015 Nov 27;467(4):623-8. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2015.10.104. Epub 2015 Oct 23.


Hyaluronan has diverse biological activities depending on its molecular size. High molecular weight hyaluronan (2000 kDa) is a major component of extracellular matrix, and has been used in wounding healing, extracellular matrix regeneration, and in the treatment of osteoarthritis. Hyaluronan fragments can stimulate inflammation or induce loss of extracellular matrix. Hyaluronan is expressed during adipocyte differentiation, and down regulation of hyaluronan synthesis can reduce adipogenic differentiation. However, the direct effects of hyaluronan fragments on adipocyte differentiation have not been elucidated. Therefore, we prepared hyaluronan fragments by enzymatic digestion, and examined the inhibitory effects of these hyaluronan fragments on the accumulation of lipid droplets and on adipogenic gene mRNA expression in differentiating 3T3-L1 pre-adipocytes. Medium sized hyaluronan fragments (50 kDa) decreased lipid droplet accumulation in a dose-dependent manner. However, high molecular weight hyaluronan did not inhibit lipid droplet accumulation when used at a concentration of 600 μg/ml. Two or 4 day treatments with medium molecular weight of hyaluronan resulted in similar inhibitory levels of lipid accumulation as did treatment for 8 days. Medium sized hyaluronan inhibited the differentiation of 3T3-L1 pre-adipocytes during the early stages of adipogenesis. When 3T3-L1 cells were treated with 180 μg/ml of medium sized hyaluronan, the mRNAs for the master adipogenic transcription factors PPAR-γ and C/EBP-α were inhibited. Additionally, medium molecular weight hyaluronan suppressed mRNA expression of PPAR-γ target genes, including aP2 and FAS. This study is the first to report that medium molecular weight hyaluronan fragments can inhibit adipocyte differentiation.

Keywords: Adipocyte differentiation; Adipogenic inhibitor; Hyaluronan; Hyaluronan fragments; PPAR-gamma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3T3-L1 Cells
  • Adipocytes / cytology
  • Adipocytes / drug effects*
  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects*
  • Hyaluronic Acid / chemistry
  • Hyaluronic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Mice
  • Molecular Weight


  • Hyaluronic Acid