4,4'-Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and 4,4'-dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE) promote adipogenesis in 3T3-L1 adipocyte cell culture

Pestic Biochem Physiol. 2016 Jul:131:40-5. doi: 10.1016/j.pestbp.2016.01.005. Epub 2016 Jan 20.


4,4'-Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), a chlorinated hydrocarbon insecticide, was extensively used in the 1940s and 1950s. DDT is mainly metabolically converted into 4,4'-dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE). Even though most countries banned DDT in the 1970s, due to the highly lipophilic nature and very stable characteristics, DDT and its metabolites are present ubiquitously in the environment, including food. Recently, there are publications on relationships between exposure to insecticides, including DDT and DDE, and weight gain and altered glucose homeostasis. However, there are limited reports regarding DDT or DDE and adipogenesis, thus we investigated effects of DDT and DDE on adipogenesis using 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Treatment of DDT or DDE resulted in increased lipid accumulation accompanied by increased expression of CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein α (C/EBPα), peroxisome-proliferator activated receptor-γ (PPARγ), fatty acid synthase (FAS), acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC), adipose triglyceride lipase, and leptin. Moreover, treatment of DDT or DDE increased protein levels of C/EBPα, PPARγ, AMP-activated protein kinase-α (AMPKα), and ACC, while significant decrease of phosphorylated forms of AMPKα and ACC were observed. These finding suggest that increased lipid accumulation caused by DDT and DDE may mediate AMPKα pathway in 3T3-L1 adipocytes.

Keywords: 3T3-L1; Adipocyte differentiation; Adipogenesis; DDE; DDT; Lipogenesis.

MeSH terms

  • 3T3 Cells / chemistry
  • 3T3 Cells / drug effects
  • Adipocytes / chemistry
  • Adipocytes / drug effects*
  • Adipogenesis / drug effects*
  • Animals
  • DDT / pharmacology*
  • Dichlorodiphenyl Dichloroethylene / pharmacology*
  • Immunoblotting
  • Mice
  • Triglycerides / analysis


  • Triglycerides
  • Dichlorodiphenyl Dichloroethylene
  • DDT